Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Lot Like Love February 13, 2015

It’s one of those things I’m glad us canines never have to worry about. We are what we are, and (other than our breed, I suppose) it really is as simple as that. We don’t have labels for things. Not like people with their relationship statuses anyway.

Single. Widowed. Divorced. Married. It’s complicated.

Indeed it is complicated, and not in a good way. Because in my mind there is something that unites all of these labels together in spite of society’s attempts to identify separate groups. Love. From the ground up, I find it to be a constantly evolving emotion that truly knows no bounds. Nor does it fit perfectly into any one of those boxes.

Around here, I saw this brought to life today in some intriguingly interesting ways. My dear forever mom worked mostly from home today, which means Carter and I got to enjoy a little extra time with her than usual. I watched as she put on her Energizer bunny hat, seeming determined to get some serious work done around here. When she wasn’t taking care of Carter, she was working. And when she wasn’t working, she was cleaning. Kisses

It probably doesn’t sound like much, but I could tell this particular round of chores had a special motive for her. My suspicions were confirmed when she (as she does quite often) explained to Carter and I what she was up to. Her goal was to get chores done today so her and my dear forever dad wouldn’t have to worry about them over the weekend. It was her little way, in addition to the gift and card she got him for Valentine’s Day tomorrow, to show her love.

So when the doorbell rang this afternoon, she was actually a bit irritated at first. How dare whoever is at the door interrupt her in while she was in the midst of her love-driven cleaning/organizing/working rampage? The tears came when she opened the door and saw what awaited her outside. Flowers. From dad, Carter and I.

And so we showed our love for mom in a slightly less practical way. (Though I will admit it was dad who took the lead with the idea).

Watching all of this happen reminded me of some pretty important features about this thing called love. It doesn’t have to fit into a box. Whether you’re single or have been married for 75 years, it finds its way into life in moments like these. As it should, I feel, for anyone you care about.

So tomorrow, as we in America pause to reflect on all things love, I’ve decided to stop to take stock of all of the loved ones in my life. Not just my forever family, but my extended families and friends and those I haven’t seen in a while and you out there in the blogosphere. I might not be able to show you with chores (or flowers), but believe me when I say from the bottom of my little doggie heart: I love you.

 

What You Wish For February 12, 2015

It happens with the laundry and the cooking and the cleaning and (as crazy as it sounds) sometimes even the diaper changing.

Sometimes I wish I could help out more around my forever home. It would definitely qualify as something I feel the slightest bit guilty about. And it happens pretty regularly around here, especially since dear baby Carter was born.

I know I help with things like my remarkable charm and the unique ways I find to bring my kind of joy into every day. But I often wish I could do more. Sunshine

Most recently it happened last night. After all that talk about the silver lining of exhaustion yesterday, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when the inevitable happened. For no good reason at all, no one slept well around here last night.

The usually sound-sleeping Carter woke four times throughout the night. My theory is twice he just wanted reassurance that mom and dad were there. The other two times he was hungry.

My dear forever mom didn’t sleep well either. I suppose being 22 weeks pregnant might have something to do with that.

And then there’s dad. He doesn’t sleep well when mom doesn’t sleep well. And the crying woke them both up every time. But when it happened at 2:03 a.m., precisely 8 minutes after mom finally fell asleep, it wasn’t even a question.

Dad took care of it. He went and got a bottle ready and grabbed a very upset Carter out of his crib to feed him before mom could get out of bed. I think I may have been as thankful as mom to see it happen, because it was one of those times I wished more than anything I could help.

 

Teamwork. From the ground up, it’s not always easy. I know dad was as tired as the rest of the family in that moment. But that’s how it goes sometimes. And as much as it might bother me that I can’t help around here in more practical ways, I know in my heart I do my part in the ways I can.

I’ll never be able to do the laundry or dishes or help calm a crying baby in the night. But I love my forever family unconditionally and for me at least that will always be enough.

 

Because I Love You December 15, 2014

It happens all the time. Sometimes several times a day. To be honest, it happens so frequently, I could very easily find myself taking it for granted. In reality I know that is the absolute worst thing I could do. I Love You

That’s why when it happened today, I paused. I took it in. I wrapped my heart around it so tightly in an effort to remind myself how special the words actually are.

“I love you so much, Wiley. Do you know that?” These are words mom says to me pretty often, and rarely do the words include one sentence without the other. The statement and the question. I used to think it was kind of silly of her to ask a question with such an obvious answer, but time has taught me not to be curious about such things. It is what it is, and for that I am thankful.

She’s taken to saying it to dear baby Carter as well, which I found some irony in as I thought about it this afternoon. Because neither he nor I can say it back. I know soon he will be talking up an intelligible storm, but that has yet to come to fruition. And I have nothing by my nonverbal arsenal to show her the obvious truth that I not only know her words as truth, but adamantly return the sentiment.

I know this as certain as I know she doesn’t need an answer to her question. She asks it all the time. But I will never (ever) take that for granted. In my book, a person can’t say they love another person enough.

“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you,'” suggested German psychologist Erich Fromm. “Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.'”

A dog can’t show their unconditional love for their people in enough different ways. Maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to not hear it enough (or ever). Or maybe it’s because I’m not getting any younger and feel the need to embrace it each time I hear it. Either way, it’s okay with me.
 

Random Acts of Kindness November 11, 2014

I don’t know much when it comes to the high school experience. Or school in general, I suppose, since I have made all foreseeable efforts to avoid it like the plague for the majority of my doggie life. There is a reason I’m known as an obedience school drop out, and its honestly something I bear as a badge of honor more than a black mark on my otherwise decent record.

I do know my forever parents had fairly differing experiences in high school. Mom was the A student who was in every club imaginable. Dad was the popular jock who played soccer and hung out with anyone and everyone. What united their experiences was a similar disbelief in the cliche that high school is the best years of your life. They both knew better then and live that truth to this day. Listen to me

I’m sure experiences differ from person to person as they do for my people, but I heard something about a high school today that gave me pause. Random arts of kindness. The students throughout the school are leaving various kinds of artwork throughout the halls as a scavenger hunt of sorts for all things good. They are using social media outlets like Twitter to spread the joy beyond the hallways of the school. They are exhibiting joy, from the ground up.

I don’t know much about the high school experience. But I do know enough to know this is likely something kind of special. In a society where bullying continues to play too big a role in all types of social hierarchy, it’s refreshing to hear something like this is happening in schools. It renews my sense of faith in people to do the right thing in spite of peer pressure and all kinds of other reasons not to.

And it reminds me that no matter how far out of school we are, this is what we ought to strive for in our lives. Because let’s face it, bullying doesn’t just happen in schools. Violence is not reserved for the lunchroom. And peer pressure doesn’t end when you hand in your cap and gown after graduation.

These are real things people live with every single day. Why not offset some of that with some random acts of kindness of our own? I think the methods will likely be different for everyone, but you know as well as I do the method doesn’t really matter. What matters is the heart behind it. And the heart receiving it. Because tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our lives. Together, we can make it a better place.

 

The (Not-So) Funny Phone Fiasco November 3, 2014

I wonder sometimes whether people can predict the future. I know it probably sounds crazy, but sometimes its like there are signs pointing us to what is about to happen and it’s up to us to read them correctly.

Like yesterday, mom absolutely freaked out when she thought for sure she’d lost her phone. She looked everywhere. In all of the couch cushions, upstairs and downstairs, in the kitchen, under the couches, in the fridge (yes, she honestly checked there), in the bedroom, under the bed…you name a spot and she examined it. Everything except the car, where it was, right where she left it.Silly Numbers

I suppose this was a precursor for what would happen today, though none of us realized it. I wasn’t there to see it all unfold, but from what I can tell it was an absolute disaster. I warn you. You may be tempted to laugh when you see what happened, but please try to restrain yourselves, at it is actually a very painful story. (All right, all right, a few giggles is acceptable).

She left it on the roof of the car and drove away. It was that simple, and it was all over in a flash, though she was able to retrieve it when she realized a few moments into her drive what had happened. I swear, she is so attached to that thing, I’m shocked it even took moments for her to miss it.

In the hours that followed, she was reminded what it was like to not have a cell phone to check email, which was bad enough, let alone make any phone calls she needed to make for work. It was far from ideal, and the outlook appeared grim.

The tide changed as it tends to do when dad got home from that place called work, and discussion happened on what to do next. Dad got so worked up about everything, he called the phone company and pleaded with them to help us. Begged is perhaps the better word.

Not only did they offer to help, but when my beloved people got to the store, even more good things happened. I don’t understand everything personally, other than that they came home twice as happy as when they left.

Sometimes that happens. Sometimes a day that can’t get any worse does. But then it gets better. It always gets better. And I can’t help but notice it is usually thanks to a person or people who step aside to make their part of the world a happier place. Today I celebrate those people. Today I say thank you to anyone who has ever made someone’s pretty terrible situation into a better one. You are making the world go round.

 

Give and Take March 28, 2014

It’s been a long time coming. Yet it seemed to pass with the blink of an eye. Today was mom’s last day at that place called work. And I thought she’d be excited. Instead I was met with mixed emotions upon her return home. It wasn’t until later that I understood why.

Get what you giveIt had been a busy day around here, with my grandma and aunt Morgan spending time with baby Carter and I. There was an incident involving a teeny tiny cut that happened when Morgan was cutting Carter’s itsy bitsy nails. He cried. Grandma and Morgan cried. If I could, I would have cried. It was tough on everyone because we all know no one would intentionally hurt our dear little person. Yet he was hurt today.

I thought it was oddly poetic that mom seemed a little hurt too. She invested a tremendous amount of herself in that place, but even more so in the people it included. They became her work family. They came to her with troubles and she never once turned them away. As they took other opportunities in and outside the organization, she celebrated their success. She worked almost as hard to foster relationships as she did at her job itself.

So today, when she left the office for the last time with her box of office keepsakes, she did so with a heavy heart. Because she quite honestly didn’t feel very loved. Her work family let her go with very little fanfare. It was all too soon forgotten how she cared for them in time of need. And as she is taking an opportunity outside the organization, very few peopled celebrated her success.

But that’s the thing about give and take. It doesn’t always turn out like we plan. Just like no one would intentionally hurt dear baby Carter, I believe no one meant to hurt mom today. And I think deep down she knows that too. Or at least she does a pretty good job of pretending.

Because it has indeed been a long time coming. And it has passed in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t matter that mom didn’t take much fanfare home with her today. She gave 110%. That’s what really matters anyway.

 

A Snow Globe Life December 17, 2013

At first I thought for sure it was the snowflakes. It snowed again yesterday and I found myself in awe of the glittery magic all around me. It was like being in a snow globe. The flakes fell from the sky so peacefully. Once they lay to rest, they create a blanket of sparkling diamonds in my backyard paradise. So I thought maybe if I could collect anything in the world it would be snowflakes.

But today as the snow melted ever so slightly I realized how silly that would be. There are no lasting remnants of the snow after it’s gone. By summertime it’s like it never even existed. That is, until winter rolls around again and brings with it the frozen particles of joy.

So maybe if I could collect anything, I would collect toys. In all of their various shapes, colors and sizes, they are vessels of happiness for me. And, as demonstrated by my impressive skills in the games of pickle in the middle and tug of war, they often bring happiness to my people as well. I refer to my current collection as my comfort circle, which contains about a dozen different characters. But that’s enough to overflow an entire basket in the living room. Maybe that’s enough. Maybe I don’t need more.

ContentmentMaybe I don’t need more. This is not to say anything against collections of things, but I realized today there is strength in accepting what we have been blessed with in life. In being grateful for it. Because ultimately it’s not the things we collect that matter. It’s the details. It’s the moments.

As breathtaking as a fresh snow globe perspective can be, it’s not so much the snowflakes as the joy they bring that I hold close to my heart. Its the moments I share with mom and dad playing around in the aftermath of a big snowstorm. In the extra attention I get when we come inside from playing together and I need to get all cleaned off. In the cuddles we enjoy together to warm up.

The same goes for the toys. It’s not so much about having dozens of characters in my comfort circle as it is about making the moments with the ones I have mean something. And whether it’s just me and Mrs. Prickles, or my people are involved, I am blessed.

Perhaps that’s the bigger lesson I was to take from my observation of my snow globe life yesterday. Sure, the snowflakes are a sight to be seen. And my toys are deeply loved and appreciated. If I could collect anything, it wouldn’t be these things. It would be moments. Because they have something very important in common. Joy. From the ground up, it’s not the things that bring the joy. It’s in the moments joy is present that we truly live.

 

One Little Ribbon December 13, 2013

My name is Wiley Schmidt. I am a five-year-old terrier mix with an inquisitive mind and an open heart. I like the snow, long walks on the beach (or wherever really), and spherically shaped dog toys. My favorite dog treats are Beggin’ Strips. My favorite people food is peanut butter. I’m an instigator. I’m a poet. I am a lover of life.Who am I?

All of this came to mind today as I contemplated life’s ultimate crisis in existentialist thinking. Who am I? Beyond that, what do I offer the world? And how are the two connected?

It was about this time two years ago when mom came home with the answer. (I remember it clearly because I make a point to remember all things that make her as happy as she was that day). She came home from a class she was taking on leadership with these little blue ribbons in hand. Upon the ribbons was a message from above. “Who I Am Makes a Difference” they read.

She received one from a friend, who explained that mom’s enthusiasm for life makes the world around her a better place. That one little ribbon signified one of the kindest things anyone has ever said to her. But the story doesn’t end there. Mom came home with three ribbons and a mission. She was to pass the sentiment and the ribbons on (or paw it forward as I’ve come to say) to someone who makes a difference to her. And that person was to pass it along as well.Joy from the ground up

So I watched (and waited patiently for my usual amount of attention I get upon mom returning home) as she explained that who dad is makes a difference in her life. He cares for her in the way only a husband can care for his wife, she told him, and he takes good care of her. Who he is makes a difference.

Within a minute or so I was getting above and beyond my usual amount of attention from dad. He didn’t say anything, but he put his ribbon on me and said who I am makes a difference to him. And that was that. We were officially out of ribbons. But you don’t need an excuse (or a ribbon) to tell someone he or she is appreciated.

So today I’ve decided to hand my proverbial little blue ribbon to you. Who you are makes a difference. Your personality, your mannerisms, your smile. Who are you? You are the melting pot of psychological and sociological backgrounds from all over the world. And who you are makes a difference to me.

My name is Wiley Schmidt and am a five-year-old terrier mix with a lot to offer. But I find the world also has a lot to offer me. I say this as a proud recipient of my little blue ribbon. Please take yours and pass it on to someone, and encourage them to do the same. It doesn’t take much. And you don’t even need a ribbon. Because who you are makes a difference. And don’t you forget that.

For more information on the blue ribbon initiative, please visit http://blueribbonstory.org/about/impact/.

This post is dedicated to my friend Huntie over at Chasing Rabbit Holes. Please consider stopping by to say hi!

 

Say A Little Prayer June 14, 2013

My people were away from home for entirely too long today. Here I am waiting on the usual extra people time that kicks off on Friday nights and I got a whole lot of nothing. Mom didn’t get home to let me outside over her lunch break, which is bad enough. But when they both got home from that place called work they left again right away (to go on something they called a date) and didn’t return until dark.

From Up AboveWhile this is incredibly disappointing, I am with them as I work on the blog tonight and for me that is enough. And it wouldn’t be like me not to find the silver lining in a day of loneliness, now would it? Rather than dwell on my differing levels of happiness when I’m with my people (versus when I’m not) I choose instead to focus on the clarity of thought peace like that offers.

Somewhere between my mid-morning nap and my early afternoon nap, I began counting my blessings. (Some people count sheep, I count blessings). I thought of all of the people and animal characters in my life who have made me who I am. I gave thanks for each one of them and said a prayer that all is well in their lives. While it’s not an uncommon occurrence for me to address my thoughts to God, I realize doing so is probably thought of as fairly unconventional in the dog world. But since when am I conventional? Why start with that silliness now?

I thought back today to the first time I prayed. I didn’t even know I was doing it. I was all alone on the street right after I got separated from my mom and brothers. I was terrified, heartbroken and alone. So alone. I was so distracted by my thoughts I didn’t notice the car that was careening my way until the headlights practically blinded me. I saw nothing but light in that moment and begged God to let me live. I will never know how the car missed hitting me, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is regardless of how alone I felt in that moment, I saw the light: I’m never as alone as I think I am.

I can’t say I cared for being alone quite as long as I was today. But solitude allows us the great fortune to do some of our best thinking. It happened that day in the street and it happened again today. I didn’t realize it until it happened, but I wasn’t alone at all. I was talking to God and He was listening. Sometimes at the moments we feel most alone we are in the best company one could possibly have.