Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Along Memory Lane February 18, 2014

It doesn’t happen often. Usually it’s all blue skies and sunshine. Lately there’s even been a lot of playing with a slightly more grown up version of Carter. But every now and then I get a glimpse of the past in my doggie daydreams.

Today I was back on the streets with Tiger (the inappropriately named lab who I came to think of as family). It’s funny how having a little person of my own changes how I reflect on the time I spent helping him care for his puppies. This occurred to me as my daydream trip down memory lane took me to a fateful day. It was like I was there again. Sweet Dreams

It was Tiger and I against the world. Usually we stayed on our part of town but not that day. That day our search for food brought us into a territory better left alone. We were met there by a brutish pack of dogs just as fierce as rumor had it. Except for one thing. We had a lot at stake. We had three little puppy mouths to feed. And we were not going to negotiate with bullies.

That’s the thing about bullying. They stay in power as long as they are allowed to do so. Stand up to them, put them in their (not so powerful) place, and in a way you stand up for every other victim of their bullying. It’s not always easy, and might not always take on the first try, but persistence will pay off in one way or another.

If not for the bullies, for those who took a stand. It wasn’t easy to cross enemy lines that day, but I’m glad we did it. Sure, we got the food we sought. But we got more than that. We stood up to the bullies and (more importantly) we lived to tell the tale.

The past has a way of making its way into my present in the oddest ways sometimes. And today I’m so glad it did. Because every now and then we need reminders of where we came from to light the path to where we’re going.

 

Everything’s Going To Be All Right February 17, 2014

I dropped the ball today. It was kind of like that movie scene where you see what’s coming before it happened. I saw it and then it happened. One minute Carter and I were lounging together comfortably. The next he was rolling.

It’s my doggie understanding that rolling behavior from a seven-week-old baby is normally something to be celebrated. Its something of a developmental marker the doctors tell new parents to monitor. Except when it happens like this.On the ottoman

We were on the ottoman together. And then we weren’t. I saw it and then I heard it. The pain cry, as mom has come to call it. Usually it happens when he accidentally scratches his face or something. This was different. Mom was coming back from the bathroom when it happened.

And in that moment I think we both felt like failures. Me, because I couldn’t stop the inevitable from happening. Mom, because she took her eyes off the situation in time of need. So she swooped him up and I was at the ready to do whatever I needed to do to help. I stayed underfoot (a place I can’t say I was entirely welcome in this situation) as mom paced and swayed with him and called the doctor.

My mind raced hopelessly with all of the most terrible of outcomes. My heart skipped a beat when he stopped crying a few minutes later. In a complete emotional frenzy, I kissed him all over just as soon as it was physically possible to do so. And then came a very powerful message from the doctor’s office. Doing what I can to help

It’s the first time, but it won’t be the last that he does something we’re not expecting. And it’s going to be okay. He’s going to be okay. I heard the nurse say it, and I heard mom repeat it (a few times) before I released the breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding. It’s going to be okay. Even though I dropped the ball, he is going to be okay.

It’s a powerful message to be sure, yet I think we all need to hear it from time to time. Sometimes we don’t even know how badly we need to hear it until we hear the words out loud. Until we release the breath we didn’t realize we’d been holding. But that’s only the first part of the puzzle.

The second is in believing it. These things happen sometimes. It’s like those movie scenes when you see what’s coming before it happens. And then it does. In this case the scene that follows is looking good – there don’t seem to be any warning signs that the fall had any negative impact whatsoever. So for now we have no choice. When all else fails we need to believe everything’s going to be all right.

 

Leaving A Legacy February 16, 2014

I don’t have money. Or property in Hawaii. Or antiques. When it comes to possessions, all I really have is my comfort circle (otherwise known as my toy collection), my food, and some treats. And the fur on my back. That’s about it.

I don’t know if it’s the recent arrival of my dear little person. Or maybe the fact that my sixth birthday is rapidly approaching. But lately this is all I can think about. Legacy. What is mine worth? I know this is how wealth management professionals make a living, advising people on financial plans for the future and beyond. But I’m pretty sure there aren’t many doggie financial advisors out there.Legacy Looks Like This

And maybe it’s better that way. This occurred to me yesterday morning as I shared a very special moment with my forever family. We were gathered together in the bedroom, all five of us, when it happened. The sun was shining through the windows but that’s not where the warmth in the room was coming from. Not for me at least. My heart was glowing with the sincerest of joys as snuggled up to baby Carter, who was snuggled up to dad, who was holding hands with mom. I realized exactly what my legacy will look like in those moments.

It’s not that much unlike American songstress Tina Turner who said “my legacy is that I stayed on course…from the beginning to the end, because I believed in something inside of me.”

I don’t have money or property or anything of monetary value. I bet even if I tried to sell the beloved members of my comfort circle, I wouldn’t come up with much. But that doesn’t really matter. Because I have the fur on my back and the love in my heart. Legacy. I have exactly as much to pay forward as I choose to have. It’s worth whatever I want it to be worth.

And these paws have a lot to offer the world. Like life lessons. And everything that matters to me. And joy. From the ground up, that is what I want my legacy to be.

 

Seeking Selflessness February 15, 2014

Her name was Olivia. And she was the most beautiful spaniel mix I’d ever seen. Granted, I only saw her on a computer screen and didn’t actually meet her in person. But mom did and she tells me she was pretty swell. At the tender age of two months old, she was a black and brown bundle of puppyhood joy. And she almost became part of my forever family today.

My dear aunt Morgan has been searching for her first fur baby of her own for more than a year. She has been through a lot on her search, from moments of heartbreak to moments of hope. She has fallen in love with dachshunds and terriers and bearded collies of all ages and sizes. She has considered buying a purebred of some kind, but would really prefer to rescue.

And today she thought for sure she had finally found her match. Olivia looked into her eyes and she just knew. That is, until she didn’t. Mom was there with her to help make this big decision and she tells me they were fetching the adoption paperwork when my dear aunt Morgan did a completely selfless thing. She changed her mind.

Ultimately she couldn’t live with knowing her challenging work schedule that (every now and then) keeps her away from home for 12 hours at a time would simply be too long to leave poor little Olivia alone. I know it was tough for her to leave Olivia’s big brown eyes behind. But that’s not where the story ends for her. She was indeed adopted today by a family who was waiting anxiously for Morgan to make a decision. And I bet she will be happy there.

Because rescue, from the ground up, is the real deal. I am a living breathing example of a rescue success story, and even mine wasn’t perfect. That’s the thing about situations like this. Life in itself is a big deal. It brings us twists and turns and ups and downs. It challenges us. It keeps us on our paws. And when it comes to making big decisions, it frankly sucks sometimes.

Her name was Olivia and she was a game changer. She didn’t join our forever family today but she taught us all a lesson in selflessness and patience. I’ll be the first to admit patience is not something I’m great at. That’s why I know Morgan will find her perfect match soon. Because today she made another tough decision. Today she confirmed she will not settle. And I’m proud of her.

 

The Right Questions February 14, 2014

It could be any number of things. A cell phone ringing. An unrelated conversation with someone else. A to-do list that would take longer to complete than there are hours in the day. As a professional observer of people, I am here to confirm there are so many things that distract us from things that really matter on a daily basis.

It wasn’t anything extraordinary for my forever people today. Dad had an especially trying day at that place called work. Mom struggled to console baby Carter through one of his most fussy days yet. But today I watched with love as they pushed both of these things aside. Today they celebrated Valentine’s Day. And in doing so they celebrated each other.

Love. From the ground up, I watched it unfold before my little doggie eyes as dad put together a surf and turf dinner for mom. I saw it in their eyes when they read the cards they got for each other. Yet there was something else, something more, that set the day apart. Something I realized could do a lot of people good.

Questions. Thoughtful directive emotional questions beyond the more common “how was your day” pleasantries. What have I done this past year that you’re most happy with, mom asked. What can I do to be a better husband, dad asked. And conversation abounded, regardless of the happenings of the prior eight hours. Distractions stepped aside in those precious moments and it was just them.

It was just two people falling in love with each other all over again. And it was beautiful. This is not to say they don’t love each other every day of the year. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. But today was different and I think it’s because they put aside everything else and asked the right questions.

You know the ones. They challenge us and build us up and make us think. They are capable of breathing fresh perspective into our relationships. These are the questions we should be asking each other frequently. It might not be as easy as an empty “how are you,” but I think that’s the point. Love, like the love being celebrated around the country today, should never be empty. It should never be distracted. It should be full and overwhelming to the point where no distraction is powerful enough to take away its attention to detail.

“Love is a force more formidable than any other,” suggests American author Barbara de Angelis. “It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.”

Love offers you more joy than any material possession ever could. But you have to reach out and take it. At least from what I can tell, one way to do this is to ask the right questions. Like what is love? It’s powerful. It can transform you. Love is joy. Love is life.

I Love You

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

 

Love is Your Life to Live

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 8:47 pm

I sure was thoughtful last year. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Wiley's Wisdom

Most people know chocolate can kill dogs. Consequently I avoid the stuff like the plague. But that doesn’t mean I need to stay away from the adorable phrases on the aluminum foil packaging. My mom indulged in a chocolate tonight with packaging that read “Be your own valentine.”

This got me to pondering words like courage. Strength. Life.

Great thinkers throughout history have linked big ticket words like this to what is arguably one of the most fundamental words in the English language: love. There is great debate about whether this elementary English word should be classified in dictionaries as a noun, verb or adjective. Consider your source people. In the world of Wiley, love is most definitely a verb.

Like true and authentic joy, love is your life to live. But there is this thing about love that I could never quite put my paw on…and I know it…

View original post 265 more words

 

In Spite Of It All February 13, 2014

It’s kind of a mystery to me. And I think dad feels the same way. Lately this thing has been happening that doesn’t really make sense. At least not when you hear of this thing called post partum depression. It’s apparently fairly common for women after they have babies to feel a little blue. For some, it’s manageable and goes away on its own. Others need help working through it.

My mom has needed no such managing or work. She has looked at baby Carter through the eyes of joy and love from day one. This, in spite of her incessant lack of sleep. This, regardless of spit up and stinky foofters and messy diapers and occasional bits of screaming for no good reason. This, even after what I witnessed the other day.

There she was, holding Carter in the air above her, telling him how much she loves him when bam. Spit up. In her face. And it wasn’t a little bit. We’re talking little bits of partially digested milk clumping in her eyelashes. But still she didn’t crack.Love

I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so happy as she’s been the last six weeks that she’s been home with Carter. So today I found myself wishing. Dreaming. It’s been so nice having her home all this time instead of at that place called work. She’s been a little preoccupied with Carter (obviously), but just having them both here with me during the days has been such a joy. Add to that how happy I’ve seen her and I’ve been one pretty blissful doggie.

I wish it could stay this way forever. I wish she didn’t have to go back to that place called work. I wish it could just be us three amigos against the world every day. We could go on adventures and explore new places together and I could show Carter my favorite hiding places at the dog park. Life could be grand.

Except for one thing. Mom is a pretty smart lady. I know she has a lot of schooling under her belt. And I know how happy she is when she accomplishes something or makes a difference at that place called work. I’m being selfish, I realized, and selfishness doesn’t get you anywhere.

It’s all a big mystery to me right now. A big mystery I can’t control. All caused by this one little person. It’s a wonder how something so little is actually so big.

 

Going For Gold February 12, 2014

I wonder what I would look like in ice skates. Or skis. Or those goofy looking goggles so many athletes are wearing these days. It’s hard not to at least put some thought into these things as my people have been watching something called the Olympics so much lately.Snowy Dreaming

Whatever they’re doing at these Olympic games sure looks tough to me. Much of it involves snow and ice. And winning medals. But I definitely don’t need a set of those goggles to see its so much more than that. These athletes are living their dreams.

For many of them, this is something they’ve dreamed of doing since before they even knew they were dreaming. Since then they’ve practiced and trained. They’ve won and lost. And they’ve fallen. Hard. I was reminded of this tonight as I watched in horror as a women’s downhill skier took a painful fall in the finals. All of that hard work and determination is worth nothing without one fundamental truth. The most important decision you can make in your quest for the gold is to get back up.

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them,” suggested American filmmaker Walt Disney.

I’m pretty sure I would tumble right off those skates, right into a tree on those skis and let’s face it – I would look pretty ridiculous is one of those figure skating getups. But that’s the thing about going for gold. The gold itself looks different to everyone. Good health and happiness. Landing that dream job. Or, in the case of the Olympians at Sochi, a gold medal.

Yet all dreamers share something deep within that keeps them going. Courage. From the ground up, they share the courage to accept failure with grace. Because courage is the fuel for those who dream. And dreams are only as big as you make them.

 

To Live Afresh February 11, 2014

I’m not showing off. When it comes to regrets, I just don’t have many. In fact, I think I can count them on one paw. And I can trace them back to one day. One day I wish I could relive. The day that changed my life forever.

It started like most other days of my young puppyhood – with my birth mom bringing my two brothers and I scraps from the garbage of a nearby restaurant. I remember snatching away the last bit of bread crust from my brothers. It was so petty of me – and though I wouldn’t know it until later, I regret it to this day.

Because that’s the last meal my little family would share before it happened. That was the day we got separated. The day we were on the road and the car just came at us so fast. When I saw it coming, I ran and didn’t look back. That was my single most painful regret. I never looked back.

CozyInstead, I ran back to what I considered home base and waited for my family that would never return. I dream of them often, my brothers and my birth mom, and what happened to them that day. I pray they ran away just like I did. I pray they stayed together and lived long and happy lives. But I will never know for sure. And it eats away at my little doggie heart every time I think of it.

Then, almost as soon as it is broken, it is whole again. Because if that hadn’t happened, if I had paused for even another second, I have no idea what would have happened. I don’t regret running. I regret not looking back.

“Make the most of your regrets,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau, “never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

I know my mom wouldn’t have wanted me to live afresh in my regret. Because she would have wanted me to embrace life in that moment. She would have wanted me to run. And I know she would be proud. Because every decision I’ve made since that one has led me to where I am today.

 

Same In Any Language February 10, 2014

It happens at least a couple dozen times a day. I wish I could speak human. And, usually within a minute or two, something reminds me it’s okay I can’t. It’s an endless emotional game I play. Lately it’s gotten worse. The strangest thing about it? There aren’t even words involved.

It’s all tears. Baby Carter cries for everything. When he’s hungry (which is a lot). When he wants to be held (which is a lot). When he’s gone to the bathroom (which is a lot). When he’s sleepy (which is a lot). Frankly, he cries. A lot. No more than the average baby (or so mom tells me). I’ve gotten better at tuning most of it out.My BuddyCrying

But today I realized something pretty important. It’s his language. It’s all he has right now. All I have is nonverbal communication. All he has is tears. So (when I’m not napping through it) I’ve been attempting to interpret the cries right along with my people. It’s been an interesting check of perspective, as I realize what its like to be so easily misunderstood.

And I wish (right along with my people) on a daily basis that I could translate. Or (better yet) that I could speak baby. But there was a moment today when I realized it’s okay that I can’t. Mom, Carter and I were cuddled up together in a cozy chair with the sun shining on us and I felt it. Love. From the ground up, I felt it through our snuggles. No words (or tears) necessary. And it happened without a translator. Because love is the same in any language.