Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Open Door Policy May 27, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 7:46 pm

I’ve never been one to question having an open door policy at my forever home. As a semi professional in the art of being an attention hog, I don’t particularly mind when we have visitors more regularly. It happened when dear Carter was born and it is happening again with dear baby Conner. Loving Company

Everybody wants to meet him. And snuggle him. And maybe sneak a kiss (or two) on his pudgy little cheeks. And I love every minute of it. But as a permanent resident of my home, it is something somewhat confusing to me at times. Not that I would ever question someone who wishes to visit. That’s beside the point.

What I question is whether it’s really a good idea for my dear forever parents to be welcoming visitors in the first place. Please know that both Carter and Conner are very good sleepers (at least so far). But they are typical babies and for us that means no one is getting much solid sleep around here these days (except Carter, who somehow manages to sleep regardless of what’s happening).

Dear Conner eats every three hours around the clock, just like his brother once did. I see it taking its toll on the efficiency and overall productivity of my dear people. They’re tired. Anyone can see that. So why would they want to have so many people over to meet dear Conner is admittedly somewhat of a mystery to me.

Or it was, at least. Just as it happened with Carter, so it happened again. My doggie pal Diesel’s mom, Jessica, was here a few days ago and suddenly I understood. As mom ever so carefully handed dear Conner off to her, I saw it. Joy. From the ground up, it filled the hearts of both my mom and Jess in that moment. And it filled my heart with a familiar sense of peace with it all similar to what I experienced as I watched the same phenomenon occur with Carter.

Yes. My people are tired. But they know it’s temporary. I know it’s temporary. What isn’t temporary is these beloved people and the joy that fills the room in moments. That is real. And that’s what makes the open door policy one of my very favorite things.


On Chasing Rabbit Holes May 26, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 8:14 pm

It’s a scary place. For that reason, it is feared by many and revered by those who dare to confront it. The unknown. From the ground up, it is one of those things in life that people approach in all sorts of ways. Despite that, there is something about it that unites us all together in our journey to discover. Our journey to live. 20140301_172020

That was a philosophy of a dear friend of mine, who I learned passed away recently. Amid the joy that has been brought into my forever home in the last couple of weeks with the early arrival of my new little person, the world has lost one of the good ones. The author behind the brilliance of Chasing Rabbit Holes passed away suddenly on May 15, a mere two days after dear baby Conner was born.

I only just learned of it last night, and thought at once it could not be so. An avid and loyal reader and supporter of mine, I spoke with her regularly aside from the blogosphere. She had become more than a reader. She became a friend.

I can’t believe she’s gone now. It had been a while since I heard anything from her and now she’s gone. I’m happy she was able to greet her dear Claire at the Rainbow Bridge, but I’m sad for those she’s left behind. I’m sad for the light she shined so brightly in her humble way. I’m sad about the unknown that awaits the world following loss.

A rabbit hole is often referenced as a measurement of the unknown. And that is what happens to us when we lose someone special. Though I wasn’t around to witness the immediate aftermath when my dear forever mom lost her father suddenly in 2009, I know the aftershocks from that continue to persevere from time to time.

But I find faith and hope in knowing even the unknown gets less scary eventually. It’s one of those things that one can choose to approach in a number of ways, yet there is common ground in what happens next. We learn. We discover. We live. For that I am grateful.


A Teeny Tiny Little Hat May 24, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 8:49 pm

I felt pretty left out at first. There were comfy blankets and lights and all things fancy filling up the living room of my forever home, and I had no part in it. So I watched, as I do a lot, as beauty unfolded right before my eyes.

It turned out the visitor to our home was here to photograph dear baby Conner. I watched in awe as she took her time to place him just so. As she did her best to get dear Carter to embrace what she was doing. As she captured precious moments in my family. And then it happened. Tiny little hat

She grabbed out a teeny tiny knit hat that looked like a dog. But there was more to it than that.

“I did my best to have it look like Wiley,” she told my mom. And in that moment, my heart skipped a beat. I watched as she carefully placed the hat on dear Conner’s little head and posed him as she had done before. She asked me to get in the shot and I was more than happy to oblige.

In that moment, in my minutes in the spotlight, I felt silly for feeling left out at the beginning. I felt silly for feeling left out ever, really. Because in that moment I was reminded again of the value of family. Of the importance of being together, being present, in moments like these. They are fleeting, but that they happen at all is something to be cherished.

So I watched, as I do, as beauty unfolded right before my eyes. And as that happened, I felt it. Joy. From the ground up, it lives in things like that teeny tiny little hat.


A Life Less Ordinary May 23, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 8:18 pm

When it comes to change, there is something I have noticed seems to stand out regardless of the circumstances. For better or for worse, change always is accompanied by a “before.” Though, in every instance, before is defined differently, the simple truth remains. Joy

In our case, “before” has come to be a place with myself and my dear forever family of three. The before was a time when things went a certain way and followed a certain routine. The before involved its own set of challenges at the beginning, but developed into the norm. The before was just that. All that has changed now, yet some things are the same.

Tonight as bedtime for dear Carter approached, I heard the words of a familiar tune for what was probably the fiftieth time. I’ve seen this particular Curious George movie how many times, yet tonight it was kind of like hearing it (really hearing it) for the first time. The words that stood out to me were to ‘live a life less ordinary, make life extraordinary.”

It got me to thinking about change. There’s nothing wrong with all things familiar. There’s nothing wrong with being ordinary. Yet there is something to be said for living a life less ordinary. For changing with the tide. For making life extraordinary.

My vision came to life today as my family of five took to the streets of my neighborhood on what was our first walk together in our current familial configuration. It was anything but ordinary wandering that albeit familiar territory I’ve come to know so well in my time with my family. We didn’t make it very far on account of several uncontrollable variables, but it didn’t matter.

Because in those moments we were together. As a family. In a time of change. The before, while prevalent, is no longer the focal point in the face of these adjustments. Together we are living a life less ordinary. Together we are making life extraordinary. Together we are in the now, and it is a beautiful place to be.


A Lot Like Love May 20, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 7:44 pm

There are a lot of things I enjoy about not being able to talk. I didn’t always feel this way, but as I grow older (and therefore wiser) I feel there are things I understand now better than before. The power of the human word is one such thing. Instead, I snuggle. Or wag. Or jump. Which I’m good with most of the time. But there’s this thing about words, about the art of language, that I value above my entire arsenal of nonverbal vocabulary. Few things are as powerful from person to person as the right (or wrong) set of words. Chronicles of Life

It’s been happening around here more and more, as dear Carter learns to talk. He is saying his toddler version of things like “hi, baby” to his new little brother and “what’s that?” about various unfamiliar (and some familiar) things. He says “uh oh” when an episode of Curious George ends or he drops his sippy cup when he’s in his high chair. He says momma and daddy. And he understands way more than he says.

So when it happened tonight it really was a thing of beauty. Mom and dad say it to him all the time. They’ve been saying it since the day he was born. But now he said it back. “Love you,” mom said, as she always does throughout the usual bedtime routine. “Yove You,” he said back. It didn’t matter that the diction wasn’t quite right. What mattered was the word. Yove. From the ground up, it sounds a lot like love.

So it went on like that for a while, ultimately involving dad too. It was an all out love fest around here as a result. It made me long for the power of language so I could have joined in the fun. Instead I stood by, as I always do, and bore witness to the power of language. I don’t need to be able to talk to appreciate moments like these.


Quality Time with Me May 19, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 7:33 pm

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does I make the most of it. I know it’s probably unusual for a dog to say so, but it’s time I anxiously look forward to. I went and saw my friends at the groomer today.

Mary and all her doggie comrades were in full force and I was in doggie heaven. It’s nice to see everyone and catch up with things, and (most of all) be pampered. I came home feeling refreshed and renewed.

It was a good reminder of something I think people frequently forget to do. I know my mom does it. And my dad. And my extended family…they all have this weakness with putting themselves last on the priority list when it comes to certain things. I know it’s not just them, either. It seems to be a commonality among the way a lot of people with big hearts function in the world.Sitting pretty

Yet I can’t help but wonder how life would be different if they just paused every now and then and did something nice. Not for each other or for the stranger in the grocery store, but for themselves. A little bit goes a long way, too. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Or fancy.

But just taking the time, taking a moment or two to pause and breathe and find renewal (in whatever form is best suited) is so powerful.

“Take a walk with a turtle and behold the world in pause,” suggests American writer Bruce Feiler. It doesn’t have to happen often, but when it does it’s simple. Do something you love and make the most of the time. You won’t be disappointed.


Life As We Knew It May 18, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 7:33 pm

It hit me tonight as my forever family was together in my backyard paradise. Dad had just finished mowing the lawn. Carter was causing trouble with the water from the bird bath. Mom was holding dear baby Conner. And I was there, in my favorite spot by my tree. I'm Sorry Now

Life is different now. Obviously. It seems silly to even say so out loud. Of course having another little person around will change things in major ways. Most of which we were prepared for. Yet that doesn’t subtract from the reality of change. It’s real. It’s significant. And it’s happening daily.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sense a bit of fear in the hearts of my forever parents. Change is scary, too.

But we’ve been through this before. And I’ve learned a thing or two about change in the process. It’s less scary with each passing day as the new normal takes its place in our hearts.

It hit me tonight as my forever family was together in my backyard paradise. Dad had just finished mowing the lawn. Carter was causing trouble by the bird bath (and other places). Mom was holding dear baby Conner. And I was there, blessed to simply bear witness to it all.


Blessings in Disguise May 17, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 7:48 pm

I wish I’d been there. More than that, I wish I could speak. Because had I been there and been able to I would have given this nurse a piece of my little doggie mind.

There is my mom, going into labor with dear baby Conner a few short nights ago, and she said it. One of the only things none of us were prepared for.

“More likely than not, he will be in the NICU,” she said. “I had a friend who had a baby around when you are and he was in the NICU for six weeks. You need to prepare yourself for that.”

I understand she had a job to do as well as I know there is good reason for the warning. Yet I feel there could have been a slightly more tactful way to deliver such an emotionally jarring message. I’ve heard the story retold several times to those who have come to visit dear baby Conner in the last 24 hours and my reaction to it has not changed.Ice Cream

I wish I’d been there and I could have told her to consider delivering messages of that sort with a bit more empathy. Because I know my dear forever mom. And I can hear it in her voice when she recounts the story. This was devastating news. She had everything else figured out in her head beforehand. Everything else was ready to go. But this? This was something she needed to adjust to.

With the help of dad, she was able to overcome the mental challenges associated with her gradual processing and have a fairly easy experience (if you can call labor and delivery easy, which I’m not quite sure you can). And, as predicted, Conner was whisked away to the special care unit all too soon after delivery. At first, the nurses said he would be there a week.

He outperformed all of their expectations and was able to come home after one extra night after mom was discharged. One extra night that was spent embracing a bit of transitional time with dear Carter. One extra night spent getting a little extra rest. One extra night celebrating my birthday.

While I would never wish anyone ill, I would say there was a pretty clear silver lining to this story. Not only is Conner doing swimmingly, but everyone seems to be adjusting quite well to the change. Even though I still wish I could have been there to fix that moment with the nurse, I know life is bigger than moments like that. I know that even things that seem like the worst case scenario at the time can develop into a blessing in disguise.


Chronicle of a Big Day May 16, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:14 pm

Nothing about today was normal. This morning mom left instead of dad. She didn’t go to that place called work, though. She went to the hospital to be with dear baby Conner. Meanwhile, the house I thought was as ready as it could possibly be for bringing home a new little person got even more organized. There was bottle washing and assembling of various contraptions for baby sleep. There was cabinet cleaning and diaper stacking.

We were ready. Because, after three days in the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital, it was finally time to meet my new little person. He was coming home. Happy family

I waited anxiously as they packed up and left the house to go get him. I paced around the house for a bit. I tried napping, but couldn’t (which is unusual for me). It took forever before they came home.

And when they did I realized how nothing about today was normal. And nothing about the days to follow will be either.

Pure chaos was unleashed the second they arrived. As I sniffed and introduced myself to Conner, dear toddler Carter ran around giggling as he attempted to climb the aforementioned sleeping contraptions. But something magical happened once Conner was settled.

Carter kissed him. And then he pet him. And I swear he said “nice baby” as he did it. My heart melted. I frantically scanned the room to be sure mom saw it happen. She did. Dad did. And just like that our new normal began.


Both worlds May 15, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 11:29 pm

I finally got my ice cream.

Now I realize how small potatoes that really was.