Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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!

 

Quit Playing Games November 16, 2013

It’s one thing when its Mrs. Prickles being thrown around in a game of pickle in the middle. It’s something completely different when it’s a person’s heart. I’m a believer in seeing the best in the people, places and things that make up the chapters of my life. But people don’t always make it easy.

The way I see it, relationships are pretty cut and dry. You love someone, you spend time with them. They are your world in that moment. And in every moment, I suppose. We forgive. We move on. We are loyal, and nothing will stand in the way of that. I don’t why people let things get so complicated.Game Face

Take, for example, a pair of girlfriends who are interested in the same potential mate. That never seems to end well for anyone involved. Or the “mutual” breakup between a couple, in which someone decides its best to stay friends. That’s not fair to the person who wants (or perhaps needs) to make a clean break and start fresh.

Mom and dad don’t really partake in these sorts of games, but these are a mere sample of the myriad of relationship struggles that seem to plague the people they care about. Which makes them people I care about. Friends and family alike, these are some of the real relationship games being played in modern society. And I don’t like it.

Because my time as an observer of people has made me pretty savvy to the reality of these games. Many times what people don’t seem able to piece together is that they may think they’re only playing with the other person’s mind. Really they’re playing with the heart.

And it’s one thing when its Mrs. Prickles being thrown around in a game of pickle in the middle. It’s something completely different when it’s a person’s heart. Matters of the heart are not game friendly. “The only way to have a friend is to be one,” as my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson said.

And what does it mean to be a friend? When you love someone, you spend time with them. They are your world in that moment. You forgive. You move on. You are loyal, and nothing will stand in the way of that. I don’t why people let things get so complicated.

 

Search and Rescue November 6, 2013

I’ve seen it all before. And the story ends the same every time. But today the moral of that story took me by surprise.

My mom misplaced her glasses this morning. She looked everywhere as I followed her through the house. They weren’t on the nightstand or under the bed (I helped her look). They weren’t in either of the bathrooms. They weren’t in the freezer (stranger things have happened). So she stopped looking. She went about her other business and that’s when it happened. The lost glasses were found on the dresser in the bedroom right where she left them the night before. Right where the belonged.

I see the lightAnd it struck me. She had to stop looking to find what was lost. It got me to thinking about this misconception I think people have about us canines being able to find anything we’ve left someplace. Sure, there are some breeds that are especially gifted at tracking just about anything. But there are others who leave a graveyard of buried bones in the backyard of a home when moving to another. I’m not proud to say I probably fall into the second category myself.

Especially when I think back to one night in particular at the Oshkosh Humane Society. It was the night after Rusty left me to go to doggie heaven. He took his contagious optimism with him, leaving me behind with nothing but my thoughts. So I resolved to change some things that night. I resolved to stop trying so hard to be adopted. I was probably not helping matters by trying to jump into the arms of all of my visitors anyway. So I stopped looking.

I know it sounds terrible coming from your resident doggie optimist but sometimes I think that’s what it takes to find what we’re really looking for. “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves,” as one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Henry David Thoreau put it.

I’ve seen it all before and it always seems to end the same way. It’s quite the paradox really. From little things like mom’s glasses to life-changing things like when my forever people found me, sometimes what we seek is more easily found when we stop looking for it. And so the lost is found.

 

Building a Mystery November 5, 2013

Mystery solved. Today, amidst a shared moment of joy from the ground up, I figured it out. Which came first – the chicken or the egg?

The epiphany happened during a game I invented to bring laughter into the Schmidt house at any given moment. The best part is my people never see it coming. If you’ve ever seen a dog initiate play with another dog, you’ll be able to picture it. The game begins with me with my butt in the air, tail wagging. Then mom or dad pretend to grab something out of thin air and hide it under a pillow or a blanket or even the kangaroo pocket on what they call a sweatshirt. Joy

And I always take the bait. I chase the invisible prize wherever it goes – under the pillows, through the blankets, inside the sweatshirt, I stop at nothing to claim victory. By the end, my people are as out of breath from laughing as I am from chasing.  It’s really quite the ruse.

I’m convinced my beloved people think this is all their idea. That they came up with this game, and that I must not realize its only air I’m chasing. And I can’t say I’d ever want them to think otherwise.

Because victory isn’t the invisible prize. No sir. It’s the laughter, the contagious joy, that happens in these precious silly moments. Tonight the moment lasted a good 10 minutes, which allowed me time to reflect on the mystery of the joy contagion.

“Joy is not in things,” German musician Richard Wagner suggested, “it is in us.”

It is oddly reflective of the chicken and the egg debacle. Which comes first, my happiness or the joy of my people? I solved the mystery tonight. Today, amidst a shared moment of joy from the ground up, I figured it out. Which comes first – the chicken or the egg? It doesn’t really matter. “Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others,” beloved American first lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” Mystery solved.

 

In God’s Hands November 2, 2013

It’s normal for leaves to fall from the sky in my part of the world this time of year. Especially in my backyard paradise, where we have a few exceptionally large trees. As a result, a blanket of gold and orange currently coats the grass (or so my people tell me – it’s kind of tough for me to decipher these colors). But the leaves weren’t the only thing to fall from the sky today.

I was ruffling around in my backyard (aka leaf blanket) this morning when I got a surprise visit from two of my favorite little people and their parents. Apparently it wasn’t a surprise to my people, but they hadn’t said anything about Sophie and Sam coming by to spend the day with us. I suppose this may have been a proactive decision, as the mention of their names may have sent me into an excited panic until they arrived. But that’s neither here nor there.

Cuddles with SophieAfter their parents left, we sat together – Sam, Sophie, my dad, my mom and I – in the living room for a bit. (All right, more like cuddled. I nuzzled my way into Sophie’s lap pretty much the second she sat down). The television was turned to the local news station (where I’m proud to say my aunt works) and they were interviewing season 8 American Idol finalist Danny Gokey.

“God’s written a beautiful story for people,” he told the interviewer, “you just have to walk into it and embrace it.” I was touched by this idea, as I am a believer in embracing the good in all people, places, and things that make up my life story. But then she said it and my heart really turned to mush.

“When I was little,” nine-year-old Sophie said, “I used to think God had the world in His hands.” She was sure to clarify that now that she’s grown up she knows God isn’t actually floating in space holding the world in His hands, “but He’s still got us all taken care of.”

The leaves weren’t the only thing falling from the sky today. So was joy. From above. Wherever I looked, it seemed determined to find me in its varied poignant messages. God may not be physically holding the world from his perch in space, but He was certainly present in my mind today. As well as in my heart.

 

It Goes On October 15, 2013

I’ve heard it all before. If only I’d seen it coming. I should have planned for that. Hindsight is 20/20. Regrets. Somehow knowing everyone has them doesn’t make the ones we have any less real. I know the great and thoughtful “they” say misery loves company. In this case I’m not so sure.

Deep ThinkingTonight I stared up at the clear night sky dreaming about my future as a big brother. I’m going to love him or her as big as the sky, that much I know. And we’re going to be best friends forever (obviously). But I know my purpose in the life of this little purpose will be bigger than that. I’ve learned a lot in my five people years of life and I can’t wait to share everything. People can learn a lot from how us canines process things, after all.

Like regrets, for example. I have them. And I remember the day of my biggest one like it was yesterday. The day I was separated from my mom and brothers comes to mind instantly. There we were in the middle of oncoming traffic and I ran. I didn’t look back. I’ll never know what happened behind me that day. And it would haunt me to this day if I let it. If I let it. I think that’s the key to all of this regret business.

I doubt I’m the only one who’s biggest regret somehow involves the loss of a loved one. Be it a conversation that was cut off, misconstrued, or never even happened at all, many of us have experienced a sudden loss and wished there was something we could change about those last precious moments together. And we all know (all too well) there is nothing we can do. We can’t repeat the past, but we can live the present.

And in my present I chose to learn from my experience. I learned to hold loved ones close because you never know when that last embrace might be. But living life in constant fear of impending doom won’t get us anywhere either any more than regret will bring them back. Instead, seize the day regardless of the circumstances.

If you’re fortunate enough to be surrounded with loved ones, let them know what they mean to you. That’s something I want to teach my little person. But (perhaps more importantly), I want him or her to know that it’s not the end of the world if the worst does happen. You might not be able to hold that person close right now, but it doesn’t mean you can’t hold them forever in your heart. In lessons like this, sometimes we learn that in life’s greatest regrets lie some of life’s greatest opportunities for personal growth.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life,” as great American poet Robert Frost put it, “it goes on.” More often than not, we don’t see it coming. We didn’t plan for that. And that darned hindsight thing taps us on the shoulder. But somehow, no matter how grim the regret may seem, life does go on.

Related posts:

To read the whole story of my biggest regret – The Day Forever Changed http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/09/01/the-day-forever-changed/

 

Write It On Your Heart September 20, 2013

It usually makes me kind of uncomfortable. If I’m being honest, I try to avoid it. But the more I thought about it today, the more I realized my avoidance and level of discomfort are nothing compared to the actual problem at hand. Complaining. I can’t stand it. I find myself getting upset when I hear complaints because (at least in my little doggie mind) I feel it is a useless waste of time. Why would you waste all that energy complaining when you could simply do something to rectify the problem?

Don't Worry, Be HappyI got my answer today when I looked out my front window to find my neighborhood feline friend Penny was back on my front doorstep. And she looked sad. I braced myself for the worst, thinking perhaps something had happened to her person Rose. Not quite.

Rose has been in poor health for some time, but she is all right. To Penny that’s part of the problem. She’s just all right. Instead of embracing that she’s still okay, I was surprised to find Penny complaining about how awful it is to see her loved one struggle. Dear Penny went on and on about how badly she wishes she could help somehow and the frustration she experiences because she can’t.

In that moment I realized why people waste all that time complaining. Life sucks sometimes. There, I said it. And when it does, the complaining develops a purpose all its own. It’s for good reason because sometimes there really isn’t anything you can do. And it isn’t fair. But there is always a silver lining.

In this case I think it comes from understanding the difference between optimism, realism and pessimism. In order to call myself an optimist, I must recognize within me the realist. The realism is reality in the making, but it is different from pessimism, which I avoid like the plague. The line between these things may be thin, but it’s made of steel to those who employ it.

I think that’s why complaining makes me so uncomfortable. It skirts around that line of negativity I prefer to stay away from. Instead I take the advice of my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson who encourages us to “write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.” Meanwhile, my mind knows sometimes its not. And there’s nothing we can do about it. That’s the realist in me. It’s a good thing my mind listens to my heart.

Related posts:

Negativity – The Silver Lining http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/02/21/negativity-the-silver-lining/

Penny For Your Thoughts http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/08/31/penny-for-your-thoughts-2/

 

Penny For Your Thoughts August 31, 2013

I did the unthinkable today. I made friends with a feline. And I’ve got to be honest. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

Her name is Penny and she frequents my front doorstep, so I assumed she was homeless. She doesn’t wear a collar, so I assumed she wasn’t loved by a person. She’s one of the skinnier felines I’ve come across, so I assumed she doesn’t eat very frequently.

On Friendship

I assumed wrong. I learned today she has a forever home down the street where she is very well-loved by an older lady named Rose. Much like us canines think of our people, Penny considers Rose her best friend. So it hasn’t been easy for Penny to see her person struggling with health issues more frequently lately. She apparently sleeps a lot during the day (which is saying something coming from a cat), so she encourages Penny to seek adventure outside the confines of the house. She trusts that Penny will come home for her specially prepared meals (Penny has digestion issues), and for the love they share.

Penny looked especially downtrodden on my doorstep today, so I successfully pestered mom enough to take me outside to talk to her. It was the first time we’d spoken and I can honestly say I hope it’s not the last. Everything about her surprised me, and she seemed surprised to feel the same way about me.

She said from her perspective I always looked aloof, guarded, and the slightest bit snooty from my perch in the window. Like you think your poop doesn’t stink, she said. We laughed together at that, since we both know poop does indeed stink.

Amidst our laughter, I realized how unfair we had been to each other all this time. We both had these inaccurate pictures of each other’s personality painted in our heads. She had bad experiences with dogs, and I had bad experiences with cats. But in this (albeit strange) situation, we were able to move past those preconceived notions and (gasp!) actually like each other. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion that stereotypes are definitely overrated. Other people should not be allowed to determine who you can and cannot befriend. Moreover, others should not determine what should and should not bring you joy.

“Allow yourself to trust joy and embrace it,” suggested my favorite transcendental thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson. “You will find you dance with everything.”

Today I found joy in the most unusual place. I found it in Penny. She makes it her purpose in life to bring joy (from the ground up) to her dearest person named Rose. So I don’t particularly care if she’s a cat and the world says we can’t be friends. Penny is rich with joy, which makes her pretty priceless in my book.

 

That Time I Fooftered August 22, 2013

Forget milk. It’s humor that does the body good. I say this partially because I’m not allowed to have milk (even though I’ve sneaked a delicious taste from my dad’s glass a few times), but also because I’ve seen laughter at work. It’s a pretty amazing thing that creeps up on me at some of life’s most unexpected moments.

It Wasn't MeTake tonight for example. There I was, scratching behind my ear with my back paw when bam. I fooftered. (This is my more delicate way of saying farted, for anyone that didn’t already connect the gastrointestinal dots). It was far from dainty, and seemed to almost echo through the room. To be honest, it startled me. It brought my scratching to a complete halt for crying out loud. (It isn’t unusual for me to stop and pay attention to my butt region when these foofters happen, but I’m not usually stopping mid-scratch to do so). I paused for about thirty seconds with my back paw still poised for scratching. I was completely frozen in the moment.

That’s when it happened. Mom started laughing almost uncontrollably. I found myself looking around the room for whatever the beautiful source of her laughter was so I could send a mental thank you note. But the television was off, so it couldn’t be that episode of Big Bang Theory when Sheldon is playing in the ball pit (which mom and dad both find hysterically funny for some reason). She wasn’t reading or on the computer or paying attention to anything except me. Me? What about my foofter was so funny?

It’s nothing new for me. I can’t be the only dog who does this. I don’t know that I would find it particularly funny if I witnessed another dog doing it. Yet it made her giggle so much I couldn’t help but share the story in hopes it has a similar effect on other people. I can’t say I understand it, but I’m not sure it matters whether or not I get it. I’m not even sure comedians see the humor in what they say sometimes until after they say it.

All of this reaffirmed for me the words of American poet e. e. cummings who said “the most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” Well, thanks to my silliness, today was not a wasted one. People have wind chimes. Dogs have laughter. These are things that bring us peace. That’s why I say we should forget milk. It’s humor that does the body good.

 

My Love Languages August 14, 2013

Love. It sure does happen in a variety of forms.

As a puppy I was sure I had all the love I could possibly have in my heart for my mom. She was my provider, my rescuer, my hero, my mom. When I lost her, I thought for sure I would never know love again.

Then on the streets I met Tiger and his puppies and I knew I’d found it. Love. But it was different this time. Instead of bursting with love for the dog who gave me the gift of life, my feelings were overwhelmingly protective toward my adoptive street dog family. I loved her then and I love her still.

When I met Rusty at the humane society it happened again. He was wise, and he shared his wisdom with me. I loved him then and I love him still. He was probably one of the best friends I ever had.

And the love I have in my heart for my forever people is something I would describe as big love. Life-changing love. Unconditional love. It all falls in line with my general philosophy to love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe. I find myself reflecting on all of this today as I give thanks for a new set of friends I’ve made. My blog friends. I love you all so very much, in a very different way than I loved my mom, Tiger, Rusty and in a very different way than I love my forever family. And I’m fortunate that you all love me back. Loving Many

It’s been a while since I last pawsed to say thank you for the myriad of awards you’ve all been kind enough to share with me. That ends today.

Thank you to my dear friend in optimism, Ute at It’s A Happy World , for granting me the Inner Peace Award and Most Creative Blogger Award.

20th June 2013 10th and 11th June 2013

Thank you to blogging inspiration DMaudlin at Mama Bear Musings for welcoming me as part of her WorldPress Family.

Thank you to fellow believer in chasing the stars, ChasingThePerfectMoment, for saying I have Awesome Blog Content.

Awesome Blog Content Award

Thank you to fellow dog blogger and inspiration to me on a daily basis, Harper Lee , for the Sunshine Award, WordPress Family Award, and Awesome Blog Content Award.

http://smellybeagle.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/20130512-164635.jpg?w=640Awesome Blog Content Award

Thank you to a new friend of mine, Nodz, for the Versatile Blogger Award and ABC Award.

versatile-blogger-nominationsAwesome Blog Content Award

And last, but certainly not least, thank you to my friend in irony, Bacon over at Pig Love , for the bouquet of the Versatile Blogger Award, Sunshine Award, and Best Moment Award.

As many of you know, there are a variety of rules associated with these awards, most of which I intend to break today. However, the one very most important rule of all (in my humble doggie opinion) is to paw it forward. If you’re reading this, please consider yourself a member of the family who deserves the recognition of these awards. Take your pick. Choose one, or a few, but know that I am sharing these awards with my dearest loved ones who have supported and encouraged me to keep on the blogging path less travelled.

Its been a path with all kinds of different types of love. It sure does happen in a variety of forms. And I’ve got to say – I sure love each and every one of them.