Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Where Dreams Come True March 21, 2013

It’s triggered by the oddest things. A birthday. A walk around the neighborhood. Playing catch in my forever home. Regardless of what triggers it, I sometimes get upset when I think about my birth parents. I don’t understand it when it comes to my dad. I have no memories of him and the ones I do have are of the impact he left on my mom when he left.

Somewhere Out ThereShe hated him, then she missed him, then sometimes she would get so angry that my brothers and I would know to stay away because she needed time to cool down. With every emotional turn, I found myself loving her more and hating my dad more in the same breadth. It makes perfect sense why I get upset when I think about my mom. I loved her. She showed my brothers and I how to love unconditionally. She brought home to us just by breathing, and that wasn’t always easy since we moved around so much. Sleep should come easily to puppies, but we struggled a bit as a family to get comfortable in whatever cardboard box or garbage can we found shelter in on a given night.

There was one night in particular when we just couldn’t get comfortable. It was so cold that even all the snuggling in the world wasn’t keeping us warm. Mom decided to take matters into her own paws that night. She marched our shivering little family up to a window of a nearby homeless shelter and there we sat. I remember being so irritated because it was colder sitting there than it was when we were all cuddled together. We sat and waited until finally a little girl tugged at someone’s shirt to get their attention. They welcomed us into the shelter that night, even though it’s not normally allowed.

Together with the little girl we watched the first thing I’d ever seen on the moving picture window I later learned was called a television. “An American Tail” tells the story of Fievel the Mouse that is not unlike my own. Like me, Fievel had a family that seemed destined for better times before they were separated. Like me, Fievel befriended his fair share of unique characters on his journey to self-reliance. And like me, Fievel never stopped thinking about his family.

“Somewhere out there someone’s saying a prayer that we’ll find one another in that big somewhere out there,” he sings. “And even though I know how very far apart we are it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star. And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby it helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky.”

I didn’t know it at the time, but it wasn’t that long after our night in the shelter that my family would get separated just like Fievel’s did. That night might have been one in a million, but that bedtime story stays with me always. And we went from shivering outside to sleeping in the company of a beautiful little girl who agreed to share her bed with my family that night. We all slept better than we had in weeks.

Regardless of what triggers my thoughts of my birth mom, I know I only get upset because I miss her so. Ever since my fateful first night without her, I have found solace in Fievel’s song and whenever I miss her I find myself thinking to myself “somewhere out there if love can see us through, then we’ll be together somewhere out there, out where dreams come true.”

 

Shedding Some Light on Self-Image March 20, 2013

I have this theory about the people my people love. I inherently love them too because they love my people. I’m not ashamed to say so, and I would be lying if I said anyone who comes to visit the Schmidt home leaves without a good deal of my fur on their clothes as a reminder of how much I loved them while they were here. One too many times, I’ve heard dad say I would be the perfect dog if not for my shedding, but I have accepted it as part of who I am.

That’s a pretty powerful thing, I find, in terms of sharing one’s charm with others: living with what we are and what we have. I know it’s not always easy. I do occasionally wish I had fur like my hypoallergenic pal Buddy who doesn’t shed at all. But I have embraced my inner beauty which (unfortunately) does not decrease my shedding. However, I would say my outlook on my authentic self definitely makes my happiness more contagious than if I was down on myself all the time. I wish I could encourage my people and all of their people to see it that way.

“Simplicity plays a part in striking the right chord of self,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. “This occurs naturally as we begin to rethink how to put together our best authentic look.” A daily decision to see the best in all people and things begins in seeing the best in myself.

It’s not always easy (as you can see by the awful picture of me below), and I can’t imagine what its like for my people and their people. With all the pressures of the media, not to mention financial constraints that don’t allow for the grooming, air-brushing and wardrobe labels forced on them by society, it’s no wonder they struggle to get to know their authentic selves. Inner Beauty :)

I know shedding is a small problem compared to the much bigger self-image problems in the hearts of my favorite people. But I choose to embrace it as part of who I am and I think I am generally happier because of that. If I can’t find a way to tell all the people I love they are beautiful, at least I can overwhelm them with my love every chance I get. And if they leave covered in evidence of my love for them, so be it. If anything, it is my way of showing them to love themselves as much as I love them and I can’t say I regret sending them away with that reminder.

 

A Little Sunshine Goes A Long Way March 19, 2013

 

I do feel different at the end of today, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Today someone confirmed that my words brought sunshine to their day by nominating me for the Sunshine Award. As that was my goal of the day, that would be success in itself. But because I started my day sharing the challenge, the sunshine was powerful enough that I want its rays to spread into the lives of others. Sunshine Award

“The Sunshine Award is an award given by bloggers to other bloggers. The recipients of the Sunshine Award are: Bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere. The way the award works is this: Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them. Answer questions about yourself. Select 10 of your favorite bloggers, link their blogs to your post and let them know they have been awarded the Sunshine Award!”

Thank you very much for the nomination, Matthew.  Gratitude is no small feat in my life, and I owe my sincerest of it to you.

{QUESTIONS and ANSWERS}

What inspired you to start blogging? I live a very joyful life, and I recognized one day not that long ago that my joy is best when shared with others. There is nothing like a contagious smile.

How did you come up with the name to your blog? Wiley’s Wisdom: Joy from the Ground Up was a combination of inspiration that is alliteration, and my desire to share my unique perspective on joy with the world. My world starts on the ground, but the sky is the limit for my dreams.

What is your favorite blog you like to read? I can’t answer this question honestly, since there are far too many favorites to mention. Animal and humane, I do love my all beloved members of my blogosphere, as you continue to offer me insight and inspiration.

Tell about your dream job. My dream job is inspiring others through the written word, and travelling the world with my mom to share our mutual appreciation of joy from the ground up. I want to be the change I want to see in the world, so every little bit counts.

Is your glass half empty or half full? If there is milk involved, it is definitely more than half empty. I love milk, even though my mom says it is bad for me. But I digress. I seek to see the best in all people and things, so my philosophical glass is most definitely half full. And if it’s not, I make it a goal to fill up the glass of whomever will let me.

If you could go anywhere for a week’s vacation, where would you go? Somewhere outdoors and fabulous with my people. If I ever won money, I would buy or rent them a fabulous trailer to take us all anywhere we want to go in the country. Exploring is one of my most favorite things.

What food can you absolutely not eat? There’s a bunch. I do know that grapes, onions and garlic are big things to avoid. Not that I choose to pay much attention. I am a doggie vacuum cleaner.

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate? No chocolate for this doggie. I want to live long enough to make a difference in this world, and chocolate of any kind would surely see to it that not happen.

How much time do you spend blogging? Next to chewing on my favorite toys and spending time with my people, blogging is my most favorite hobby. I love words, how they come together, and how they bring stories to life.

Do you watch TV, and if so, what are some of your favorite shows? I love the moving picture window, perhaps a bit too much! My most favorite shows might surprise some people though. I enjoy the obvious shows on Animal Planet like the Dog Whisperer and Too Cute, but I also appreciate good writing in people shows like Big Bang Theory and The Vampire Diaries. Plus the werewolves on The Vampire Diaries are all rock stars in my doggie book.Sunshine, in a Smile

{NOMINATIONS}

Most inspiration starts as a creative thought or art coming to life. For me, these folks bring art to life in their daily breath on the blogosphere.

Amba: My dear pal, you should know you are loved

Hope, my happy hugger. You bring me joy, and I hope I bring it back to you

Melanie, you are a constant source of happy stories and inspiration. Thank you.

Misifusa, the Presents of Presence, you are always an inspiration to me

Chatter Master: Your chatter is always appreciated

Ms. Seeker: You continue to be an inspiration to me

My pals in the UK: The Barkshire Post

C-Sweet: One of my favorite sweethearts

Kirby: One of my newest blog pals. 🙂

Thank you all for being you.

I started today with a challenge. And it is not a coincidence that I end the day feeling better than when I started.  My ongoing effort to be the change I want to see in the world proved successful today. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

 

 

Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty March 18, 2013

I believe in fairy tales. There, I said it. I know it’s not a very manly thing to say, but I don’t care. Fairy tales inspire imagination, cultivate creativity and (perhaps most importantly) spark a sense of hope in ways that appeal to our inner child. And hope is a mighty powerful thing when it comes to imagination.

“The world is but a canvas to our imaginations,” said one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Henry David Thoreau. “Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.” In my four people years of life, I have noticed a general laziness in the change department. It scares people. More importantly, it shuts down the hope that breathes life into imagination. Without imagination we can’t be the heroes of our own stories, American author Mary McCarthy once said.

I do believe in being the change we want to see in the world, so this is a thought worth pondering. There is usually no shortage of aspiring heroes in any fairy tale, but the ones I find most impactful are those who look within for strength.Dreaming in Fairy Tales

“In every one of us there lies a sleeping beauty waiting to be awakened through love,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. “Your creativity, imagination, and authentic sense of style are far superior to any sorcerer’s spell, no matter how strong.”

So today I take a stand for creativity by looking within and embracing my imagination, no matter how embarrassing that might turn out for me. I dare to tell the truth about my possibly impossible hopes, dreams, and aspirations because belief in these things brings me the hope I need to imagine.

I believe all dogs go to doggie heaven. From what I understand about heaven, it is a place of perfection for believers. I am a believer who believes that if a person’s perfect world includes an animal, we have a place in heaven.

I will drive a car someday. I am a living, breathing testament that you can teach an old dog new tricks, and I want to learn to drive a car. Plus, I score a few manly points back for my fairy tale comment before. (Right?)

The animals on the television are real. My parents don’t understand why I always bark at animals on the moving picture windows in our house. Well, I’m sorry, from my perspective it looks and sounds like they are intruding into my forever home, and I have a problem with that.

I understand people conversations. Often I wish I could join in, but instead I listen. I value these moments.

I will write a book called 365 Days of Joy: From the Ground Up.  I have joy to share with the world and the impossible will not stop me. I need to believe it is possible to make it happen.

After all, I believe in fairy tales and their portrayal of life-changing unconditional love. Fairy tales inspire imagination, cultivate creativity and (perhaps most importantly) spark a sense of hope in ways that appeals to my inner puppy. And hope is a mighty powerful thing when it comes to imagination.

It’s time to wake up, sleeping beauties. It’s time to stop dreaming and start doing. What do you see?

 

Little Mr. Sunshine March 17, 2013

Me and My ShadowI don’t care what the 30-degree Wisconsin weather says. The birds in the big spruce tree outside the bedroom window are singing beautifully, I spotted a few rabbit footprints in the remaining snow and I even had a run-in with some of my chipmunk and squirrel “friends.” Spring is in the air today. And this afternoon I spent some alone time in the backyard soaking up the sun and getting lost in my thoughts.

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you,” great American poet and transcendental thinker Walt Whitman suggests. “The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.”

Simply put, I cannot wait for spring and summer and the various adventures they bring. So I keep my face forward while the shadow of the frigid temperature mocks me. I worry for all of those in regions like mine who suffer from some degree of seasonal affective disorder, as this has been a brutal winter filled with more than its fair share of dreary days and snow storms. I love my snow blanket of diamonds as much as the next dog, but enough is enough. So I say to my shadow to be silent. Spring and summer, like most happy things, are a state of mind. Spring is coming, this much is for sure.

“There’s two kinds of people in this world, there’s winners and there’s losers,” says Greg Kinnear’s character Richard in Little Miss Sunshine. ” Okay, you know what the difference is? Winners don’t give up.” Richard and his family didn’t give up on Little Miss Sunshine, and I am not giving up on spring. The great Punxsutawney Phil did not lie to us when he refused to listen to his shadow on Groundhog day a month and a half ago. And if he did, I will find my own sunshine in days like today.

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity,” English poet, politician and playwright Joseph Addison suggests. “These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.”

Albeit brisk, Mr. Whitman himself would have something important to say about today. Yes, it might be a brisk 30 degrees outside, but the sun is shining and spring is definitely in the air. So today I aspire to bring sunshine into anyone’s dreary day. Simplicity is beautiful in moments like these.
 

Wise Beyond Their Years March 16, 2013

To him, my name is Wall-e. He doesn’t much appreciate when I try to hug him when I see him. Nor does he like when I confuse his plush horse toy for Mr. Prickles. I know he didn’t like it when I pulled him to the ground when we were walking to the park together for the first time. But three-year-old David loves me anyway, and I love that about him.  On the Jungle Gym

I remember the moment when I first knew we were bound to be buddies for life. It was about a year ago, and  we were walking to the playground and mom had let him hold my leash. It went fine for a bit, until I saw a neighbor dog and flipped out a little. All right, all right, I flipped out a lot. I pulled my poor little new friend to the ground. Don’t worry, it wasn’t hard enough to hurt him, but it was definitely hard enough that I will never forgive myself for losing control like that. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and I could see the confusion on his face.

“Why did you hurt me Wall-e?” he asked. I wished at that moment I could scream that I didn’t mean it, and that I felt terrible. If anything, I wanted to impress him so he’d want to be my pal. So you can imagine my surprise at what he said a few minutes later when we were about to go down the slide together at the playground.

“I forgive you Wall-e,” two-year-old David said, “and I love you.” Honesty is such a priceless treasure, and I realized how priceless it is to me on our journey back to the playground about one year later. He still doesn’t care for my doggie hugs (not to be confused with bear hugs), but I could see it in his eyes today: he really does love me.

Walking to the Playground

If I ever got to spend some time with a big group of school children, I would tell them to cherish their innocence and imagination. I don’t care if they don’t listen or don’t believe me: they need to hear it. So much can be learned from a little person’s perspective on the world. The sky is the limit for imagination. Love comes easy. Forgiveness is never questioned. Want to know about living the high life? Well, from what I can tell it happens between the people ages of about 2 and 8. But it doesn’t have to stop there.

I don’t care that he calls me Wall-e. It doesn’t bother me (too much) that he doesn’t like my hugs. (I mean, who doesn’t like a doggie hug!?) I can move past the misunderstanding about his plush horse toy. But I love him because he loves me. And I will never stop learning from the little people in my life. They are wise beyond their years.

 

I Can’t Wait to See the View March 15, 2013

Today was like most Fridays. My parents woke up later than they wished, let me outside, filled my bowls with breakfast and water, rushed around to get ready and left for that place they call work. I slept until mom came home over her lunch break to let me outside and spend a little time with me, then she disappeared again. I slept some more. Then they got home at about the same time, made dinner together, filled my bowls with dinner and water…well you get the idea. I realized today that while I love a sense of adventure as much as the next dog, I do like our routines. They bring stability to my life story.Atop a Mountain

I will admit there are moments in my past I choose not to remember. I know I’ve mentioned it before. And I keep telling myself it’s for my own good. I keep telling myself to live my present with high hopes for the future that look nothing like the past I once knew. But maybe I’m going about things the wrong way. Maybe I’m not doing my life story justice with my emotional autobiographical edits.

A light turned on in one of those dark attics of my past tonight during something referred to in our family as a love fest. I know it as an especially long petting session for me, usually involving both mom and dad telling me they love me in their own unique ways (mom saying it directly, dad implying it with his silly behavior). I realized in that moment that if not for the valleys of my past I wouldn’t know how much to appreciate the view from the mountaintops. I know now from looking down from the mountains that the valleys are where the growth happens. That’s where the life is. I realized in that moment I am indeed doing myself an injustice by not being honest.

“People will tell you most of the story,” writes Nicholas Sparks in his recent novel Safe Haven, “and I’ve learned that the part they neglect to tell you is often the most important part. People hide the truth because they’re afraid.” I am done being afraid. The time has come to embrace the fear that Sarah Ban Breathnach refers to in Simple Abundance as “false evidence appearing real.”

Today was like most Fridays. And I do glory in routines. But I also love adventures: good or bad. Sure, there are moments in my past I would prefer not to remember. But I’m not doing my story justice with my emotional editing. I don’t want to live an emotionally edited life story. Because without spending some time in the valleys, we wouldn’t be able to move forward to the climbing the next mountain. I can’t wait to see the view.

 

Forget First Impressions March 14, 2013

WYou've Got a Friend in Mehen it comes to first impressions, I close my eyes and immediately see the same dog every time. His name was Tiger (which I never understood because he was a black lab) and he was always one step ahead of me. He always seemed to beat me to the best garbage cans in the neighborhood we lived in, and one day I watched in disgust as he violently fought another dog for a bone. He had these crazy black eyes that seemed filled with nothing good. He always kind of snarled when he saw me. And I hated him. That was one of my life’s biggest mistakes.

I got this idea to follow Tiger home one day. Something dark inside me wanted to see where this big, bad dog lived. I can’t explain what took me there, but I am so grateful it did. What I saw that day was both shocking and heartbreaking. It turned out Tiger was a single dad, providing for a litter of puppies who really just wanted their mom. I saw it in his changed and softened eyes that day: all he really cared about was making sure his pups were okay. That’s why he always seemed so brutal when he was fighting for food. It all made sense now.

And that’s when he caught me staring. He was not a happy camper. To this day, I know the only thing that kept him from attacking me was the beat up loaf of bread I had brought with me on my stalking journey that day. I immediately surrendered it to him to give to his pups and he and I were friends from that day forward. I became an adjunct member of the family, which I appreciated because it gave purpose to my days and Tiger appreciated because he didn’t have to work so hard.

I would venture to say something like this has happened to everyone. Usually, it happens with the quiet nerdy girl who works in the basement. Or the sarcastic man all the women try to avoid in the office. Or maybe even the social butterfly who stings like a bee. But if you ask me, the world in general puts too much pressure on first impressions. While I understand in a literal sense that a first impression can’t be redone, I would argue that its more important to remember the analogy about the cover of a book when meeting someone new.

Let’s face it. Not all books are as good as their covers. The art and font and color choices lured you in, but the content didn’t deliver. Or perhaps the cover was too simple to capture the brilliance the pages contained. It makes me wonder a bit why people put so much credence into first impressions. A person is only as good as his or her heart. So why on Earth do people judge each other at first sight?

 

Momma and Me March 13, 2013

From what I’ve heard, it was a bit of a fiasco for my adoptive parents to adopt me. Rather than delve into that whole emotional story right now, I will offer a Reader’s Digest version. To make a very long story (I’m sure I will share at a later date) short, my momma didn’t care what it took to adopt me. It was love at first sight if you believe in such things (which I do).

Apparently, the adoption profiler gave her a bit of grief about the fact that my dad didn’t have prior experience with animals, referenced my alleged behavioral issues, and challenged whether my soon-to-be adoptive parents were prepared to handle such a “handful with a cute face.” Well, my momma told that profiler she didn’t care that I had been previously returned by another adoptive family. She was fine taking me to a behaviorist for my apparent behavioral issues prior to adoption. Heck, she was prepared to adopt a puppy like they did in the movie adaptation of “Marley and Me.”Momma and Me

But she wanted little ole 2-year-old me. Fortunately for me we both won that battle, and our mutual appreciation for “Marley and Me” remains intact. And (in my humble opinion) this is the case because I care so much about author John Grogan’s perspective on dogs.

“A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water log stick will do just fine. A dog doesn’t care if your rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he’ll give you his,” Grogan writes. “How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?”

Like many dog-loving fans, we agree that the book was the slightest bit better than the movie, but both versions are pretty special to momma and me. I was around for the majority of  momma’s first reading of the book, and I can testify that she laughed, cried, smiled and everything in between. If anyone were to write my biography, I would want it to be Mr. John Grogan himself.

This is not just because of the brilliance of both adaptations of “Marley and Me,” but because of what he says in his emotional good bye to Marley at the end of the story.

That is the ultimate reflection of a dog’s joy: from the ground up, if you ask little ole me.

 

The Shores of Heaven March 12, 2013

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:43 pm
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One spring morning a daughter and her dad took flight in a small plane in north-central Wisconsin. At 16-years-old, she was more excited to get her pilot’s license than her driver’s license. She had been practicing with her dad for some time now and couldn’t wait to take off. Little did either of them know it would be the last flight one of them would ever take. Moments after takeoff, the engine failed and the plane tumbled to the ground. Only one of them survived.

I know it as one who has loved wholeheartedly and lost. I know it as one who has seen people experience losses of beloved people and animals alike. I know it as someone with a beating heart. Survival isn’t always for the fittest. If losing a loved one is tough, living with the aftermath is worse.

Referred to by some as a celebration of life, funerals offer those left behind the chance to grieve together amidst the company of those who have their misery in common. Obviously they don’t happen that often in the doggie world (other than perhaps in the privacy of a beloved backyard), but it is for this reason that I can’t help but believe that funerals are usually more for those left behind than for the loved ones lost.

And, in most cases, those in attendance of a funeral occasionally have those moments for days, months, and years afterward. If you’ve lost someone you know what I mean. The moments where you close your eyes and pray and wish with all your heart you could have that person back. Just for a second. So you can ask them their opinion on something, hear them laugh, or touch their hand.

It happens to me with several of the loved ones from my past, most of whom I hope are still alive and well somewhere out there. I wish so badly I could consult with Rusty one last time, make sure Jo is okay, wrestle with my brothers again, or snuggle with my birth momma again. I wish I could erase my loss of them from my life and we could all somehow live happily ever after in my present.

Then it happens. I remember that if I hadn’t lost my mom and brothers, if I hadn’t gotten deserted by the man with the leather belt who lived with Jo, if I hadn’t met Rusty, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Heck, I may not even be happier than ever in my forever home with my adoptive parents if not for all of the heartbreaking losses in my life.

Heavenly Reflections

Don’t get me wrong, I still have “those moments.” They happen all the time. But I find myself picturing an image the pastor brought to life a few days after the tragic plane crash that took the life of my adoptive mom’s 16-year-old cousin Shelly.

Think of her as being on a boat, happily journeying between what was and what will be, the pastor said. The person is paddling toward the shores of heaven where she is being welcomed by those who have already made the same journey. Meanwhile, she fondly waves goodbye to the shore of loved ones left behind as they become smaller and smaller and the people on the shores of heaven get closer and closer.

Shelly left behind her dad (who survived the crash), her mom and hundreds of friends and family who gathered together at her funeral to mourn her loss. But she’s happy now, looking down on us from heaven. And, like all loves lost, she lives on in our memories.