Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The New Normal January 31, 2014

This I did not expect. Or at least not to the extent to which it’s happened. Change. From the ground up, change has been the name of the game in the Schmidt household for the last month. One month ago today, my little person entered the world. Happy One Month!

This Boppy Thing is for me right?I thought I was ready. From the gadgets scattered all over the house (most of which I didn’t understand) to the stacks of baby books I helped mom page through, we were set. But I was wrong. What I wasn’t expecting was admittedly the most obvious of things. Change. To my days. To my nights. My life as I knew it has not been the same.

We canines are creatures of habit. We love our routines. Prior to baby Carter’s arrival, I had come quite accustomed to the everyday routine around here. That has all been thrown to the wayside for the last four weeks or so, and I can’t say I liked it at first.

But today I occurred to me. Dad asked if I wanted to go on a car ride, my first with my little person and my forever people. It was a short ride involving the thing my people call errands, but it meant the whole wide world to me that I was invited along to enjoy the occasion.

That’s when my heart and mind came together in the realization that it’s going to be okay. This is our new normal. We’ve settled into new habits and new routines. There are remnants of the time before that have melded seamlessly with all that has changed. Sleep is still tough to come by (for all of us), but most other things have hit a stride. And my people are happy (albeit overtired) so that means I am happy.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” American self-help writer suggests.

I’ve never been that big a fan of change. I wasn’t expecting it, wasn’t prepared for it, and now that it is happening, I can’t say I liked it at first. But one month ago today, my life changed forever. We may not be getting much sleep. And literally everything about our routine has been uprooted and updated. But this new normal looks pretty good from where I’m sitting. Change. From the ground up, it’s not so bad after all.

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There’s No App For That Revisited January 30, 2014

Gratitude. Love. Joy. These are big words with a lot of emotion behind them. That’s why I have always been a believer in putting these so-called “Smartphones” away. They take away attention from me. They distract my people. And, in general, I simply don’t care for technology replacing the real thing.
LoveA tiny smiley face on a screen in no way is as powerful as a real one. And (let’s face it) a cyber hug only goes so far. To me there is an entire generation of little people growing up in an age that doesn’t encourage nearly enough physical communication. I don’t really understand what makes these phones so “smart” anyway.

So today I was reading through some comments from my friends in the blogosphere and it occurred to me. I am so often very deeply touched by the words I see on the screen. To all of you (you know who you are) who comment regularly, please know that your words sincerely make my heart swell with joy. That brings the purpose of this blog full circle, as joy truly is best when shared. I share my take on life’s little joys from the ground up with you, and (in turn) you share joy with me.

It’s a very powerful technological cycle that I couldn’t ever replace with physical contact since we are all so far away. Therein I find the silver lining. This thing called technology certainly has its downsides – like replacing attention for the company we keep with company elsewhere – but it’s not like me to miss the silver lining in something. Technology. From the ground up, it in no way can replace the real thing.

But it is still real to both the sender and the receiver of the messages. Gratitude. Love. Joy. While I still feel these are best served in person, that doesn’t entirely negate their value via text message or email. Blessings are being shared. There may not be an app for that, but that’s okay. Because maybe this technology thing isn’t so bad after all.

Related Post: There’s No App For That – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/05/04/theres-no-app-for-that/

 

Just One You January 29, 2014

I’m glad I am a boy. And a dog. I’ve got it easy when it comes to so many things. I don’t have to worry about money, or a food source, or whether or not I’m loved. My people take care of all of that. And the whole appearance thing is so easy for me. The inside matches the outside. I’m all heart, and I work with what I’ve got. And I like it. It’s as simple as that.Be You

That couldn’t be farther from the way it works for the two-legged women in my life. The ones I see on the television are always altering the way they look with hair products and makeup and clothes and diet plans. So many diet plans and fitness commercials air this time of year, no doubt targeting those who made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. The ones I see in real life aren’t all that different from those on the television, who (for some reason I still don’t understand) they seem to try desperately hard to imitate.

But it gets worse. I apologize in advance for the blanket statement, but the way I see it too many women want what they can’t have. Skinny women want to be skinnier. Curly-haired women want straight hair. Small chested women want a bigger chest (and vice versa). It’s madness.

I got to thinking of this today when I noticed a new kind of joy in my life. Just one you (JOY) appears frequently on labels baby Carter’s clothes. At first I thought nothing of it, but today it got me to thinking. Indeed there is only one baby Carter. And I am thankful for that. He is uniquely him and that is just as it should be.

The same can be said for the women in my life. There is just one of you, and instead of changing it with all kinds of hair products and diet plans, you should be embraced. I’m glad I’m a boy. And a dog. Because I can spend all that time I’m not worrying about unnecessary self improvement on reminding the women in my life how special they are. Joy. From the ground up, it is found on the inside not the outside.

 

The Silly Sleep Smile January 28, 2014

My heart stopped today. It was only for a second (or three), but it definitely happened. It seems an appropriate response to what I witnessed. Baby Carter stopped breathing. So my heart skipped a few beats.

The WatchdogThere we were – mom, Carter and I – settling in for our late afternoon nap (a custom to which I’ve come to very much enjoy) when it happened. Whoever coined the phrase sleeping like a baby clearly has never watched a baby sleep. There’s flailing and jumping and funny breathing patterns and grunting and the occasional random cries. But there are also smiles. Watching all of this unfold has become a favorite part of my days. I am watching over my little person and all is well in my world.The Sleep Smile

So today when he stopped breathing, my world turned on its axis. I wanted to do something – anything – to make him start breathing again. Fortunately I didn’t have to. It happened on its own a few moments later. And apparently it’s normal, at least from what I heard mom and dad discussing later. But it seriously and completely freaked me out.

That’s when I realized there’s something about newborn sleep that is kind of like life. It’s fun. There are moments that overwhelm you with joy and prompt a smile straight from the heart. It’s scary. There are moments that take your breath away – for good or for bad reasons. It’s not always easy. There are things along the way that make us sigh and grunt and flail (at least emotionally if not physically).

And dreams are real. Today was not the firs time I’ve longed to hop inside that little baby mind of his to see whatever he was dreaming about. Moreover, I wish I could have protected him from whatever made him scared in his dream and share with him whatever made him happy. But, just like life, there are some things that are uniquely our own. Dreams are one such thing.

My heart stopped today. It wasn’t for long, but it was long enough for me to realize in that small moment something pretty big. “Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s question,” suggested American psychic Edgar Cayce. If that’s the case, my questions don’t really matter. Because if that silly sleep smile is any indication, my little person’s got it all figured out.

 

Keepers of the Light January 27, 2014

Leadership. It’s a big word that means a lot of things to a lot of people. Ask 100 people to define a leader and you’ll get at least 60 different responses. Words like strength, courage, integrity, honesty, and loyalty all come to mind. Ask a dog, and the response is pretty simple. Leader of the Pack

For us, its almost instinctual. We have a pack mentality, therefore there will always be a pack leader. And there will always be a pack leader because of our pack mentality. It is that simple. We look to our leader for everything, and do not mind doing so because we prefer to know where we stand. And if no pack leader steps forward, we will assert ourselves as the leader. Whether or not that is the best option is left for interpretation.

I’m not saying one way of thinking is better than another, but I do think there is something to be learned from especially the similarities between the two. At least from what I can tell, there is something almost instinctual about a person’s definition of leadership as well. It is personal, usually aligned in some way with one’s subjective experiences. Good leaders have a way of asserting their leadership in a way that guides rather than forces followers. A way of making them feel at home with their place in life while at the same time in control of it.

Late great American basketball coach John Wooden had a few things to say about leadership, one of them being that leaders make decisions while followers make suggestions. Because let’s face it. It’s pretty easy to make a blanket statement about something bothersome. It’s something completely different to actually do something about it.

That’s the thing about leadership. It means different things to different people. But in a way that is also the glue that binds its meaning together. Whether you have two legs or four, one thing in particular seems to ring true. The best leaders are those whose followers become leaders themselves.

So I guess I fall somewhere in the middle of the canine and the people way of thought. The way I see it, leaders are keepers of the light. They shine brightly for those in the darkness. They guide gently with even the smallest flickering flame. They help people see the way. And (perhaps most importantly) they pass the torch along so there is never a moment of darkness.

 

When You’re Down January 26, 2014

Please don’t laugh. It was a big time adventure for mom and I today. She took me with her to an especially exciting destination on what was her first venture out of the house in almost a week. The grocery store! It doesn’t mean much for me, other than a brief car ride to and from, with a quick nap on the driver’s seat in between.On the Road Again

But it was more than that. I was mom’s copilot again. Amidst the last several weeks since baby Carter’s arrival, I’ve missed alone time with her. So that made what some might call a routine drive into something kind of special for me. And then it happened.

I looked around and noticed some serious changes since my last car ride around the holidays. It was all holly and jolly with twinkle lights and Christmas wreaths and joy. From the ground up, the holiday season was everywhere.

Not anymore. Today was a dreary day in Wisconsin. I don’t even think it hit the anticipated high of 26 degrees. And we face more frigid temperatures (with wind chills estimated in the -50 degree range) in the days to come. The sky was grey. And there are no twinkle lights left to bring any holly or jolly. To be honest, it is a pretty depressing sight to be seen.

So there are no more twinkle lights. We just need to make our own. I know it’s silly, but I found such joy in my car ride today. Because I’m not in the business of all things sad. As mom went inside the grocery store and I cuddled into a cozy ball, I fought to find a silver lining in these doldrums that surround us.

I know its tough not to let such things take a negative effect on emotions. But thinking about the negative inspires positivity for me. That is what joy from the ground up is all about. When you’re down, there is no where to go but up. Or on a car ride to nowhere. That always does the trick.

 

Learning New Tricks January 25, 2014

The Time is NowWhoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks didn’t know what they were talking about. I’m five people years old and I learned a new trick today. Well, that’s not entirely true. But I thought about it. Does that count?

All kidding aside, my people talked tonight about teaching me to retrieve a specific toy based on its name. Flea. Mrs. Prickles. Mr. Prickles. Angry Bird. These are a few of the characters in question. What they don’t know is I definitely know who’s who amidst my toy clan. I just prefer to not play favorites.

But this whole trick misunderstanding is akin to something silly I heard my people say a while back. There’s no right time to have a baby, mom said. It doesn’t necessarily sound like a positive thing to say. Nor is it negative.

And, as I am in the habit of choosing optimism over pessimism, it got me to thinking about this idea of there being a “right” time to make a major life change. Like learning a new trick, regardless of your age. Or breaking a bad habit. Or starting a good one.

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go,” suggested American author and motivational speaker Nido Quebein, “they merely determine where you start.”

It doesn’t matter when you learn the new tricks, as long as you have an open mind. Because the “right” time is now.