Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

My Newborn Baby Survival Kit March 1, 2014

I told you so. I don’t often say such things, but in this case I need to take credit where credit is due. I said it six months ago and I will say it again. Too much is too much when it comes to the ridiculously copious amounts of baby things people can buy these days.

In my opinion it’s an awful tirade on the hormonal instability of first-time expectant mothers who are by nature on a quest to nest. Sure, the purchase of baby things had a direct inverse relationship to the amount of doggie things coming through the door of my forever home. But that didn’t bother me like this does.The "stuff" and me Bumbo chair

Ultimately, it’s just stuff. That’s what dad said tonight as we got Carter ready for bedtime. If we’d only known what we really needed, he said. That is exactly true. But as life would have it, you often don’t know these things until you’re living through them. And while experience has demonstrated the importance of baby accoutrement like the Boppy pillow, sleep sacks, and sleepers that zip (rather than snap), I have developed my own list of necessities for surviving those crucial first weeks as a new parent.

1. Sleep. Get it when you can. It doesn’t matter if its five minutes or five hours. Every little bit counts. (Almost) everything else stems from this.

2. Patience. It’s happened to mom. It’s happened to dad. Sometimes there just isn’t enough patience to go around. But any time you can catch yourself and remember to be patient is better than a time you didn’t.

3. Love. I’m not talking puppy love. I’m talking the unconditional love us canines have so graciously mastered. It’s not always easy to speak and act in love when you’re overtired and hungry and can’t remember the last time you showered, but it is a worthwhile investment that pays priceless dividends.

4. Family. Whether they are blood relatives or family friends, it really does take a village. Also, it helps if this village brings food whenever possible. That’s the last thing on the mind of an overtired set of parents even though it’s entirely vital.

5. Joy. It’s the only defense against the stress.

Things you won’t find on this list? An extra dozen pacifiers. Or three different kinds of receiving blankets. Or even that silly Bumbo chair. And that’s just during pregnancy. Needs can blur with wants in any scenario life hands us. But regardless of where you are in your walk of life, the lesson remains the same. Needs and wants can get a little fuzzy sometimes, but the best things are those money can’t buy.

 

Now We Pray November 30, 2013

The house projects are finished. The nursery is ready. The diaper bag is even packed. At almost 34 weeks along, operation baby preparation seems to have come to a close.

I realized it as I watched in awe today as dad assembled something called a pack and play. I love all sorts of play, so I was sure to be at the ready for when playtime would start. But there was no playtime. At least not in the traditional sense of the word.

Once it was all put together, it appears to be (gasp!) another bed I can’t get into. Another place I wish I knew I could cuddle with my future little person that seems to be off limits. But something about this pack and play made my people happy. So I was happy even though we didn’t end up playing any sort of game.Now I Lay Me

Then it was quiet. A collective sigh echoed through the room. And then mom said it. “It’s bittersweet…it feels like everything’s done,” she said. “Now all we can do is wait.” They went on to talk more about this pack and play and how it will be a good place for the little person to sleep the first few months. Mom shared a story with dad about bedtime when she was growing up, and how her family used to pray together. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,” the prayer began. It continued with blessings on all of mom’s loved ones.

In that moment, it’s like all three of our hearts and minds were one. We all seemed to realize it at the same instant. The house projects are finished. The nursery is ready. The diaper bag is packed. For all intent and purpose, operation baby preparation has come to a close. Except it hasn’t. Now (more than ever) we have so much more to do than wait. Now we pray. We pray for the baby to move off mom’s ribs. For continued healthy development. For a safe delivery for both mom and baby. And ultimately for a healthy baby. Now we pray.

 

You Tell Me November 24, 2013

Some people call me needy. I prefer loving. Compassionate. Loyal. There’s only one problem: I care what people think. There, I said it. And “needy” doesn’t exactly sound like a positive thing.

Yet I will be the first to admit I am a self-proclaimed doggie Olympic gold medalist at attention-seeking behavior. I cuddle into the tiniest crevice next to (all right, sometimes on top of) whomever will have me. I prefer to be a co-pilot on car rides rather than slum it in the back seat. Above all, I won’t rest until I’ve made someone smile. Counting Blessings

Sure, this external locus of control on self-esteem has its downsides. (Complete and utter failure come to mind). But the joy I feel in the moments I’m sharing joy with others more than makes up for that.

I thought of this today as I watched as my forever people bustled around the house. Today dad finally finished his long list of daddy nesting projects around the house. In his eyes, the house is officially ready for our new little person. Meanwhile, something called a car seat travel system got assembled, a diaper bag was put together, and baby clothes were washed and neatly folded away. I felt blessed to be a bystander in these moments. I watched it all unfold from the comfort of my doggie bed in the kitchen. And, in doing so, I became the richest doggie alive.

For 339 days, I have shared my thoughts with the world. My 365-day mission to share my unique perspective on joy (from the ground up) has almost come full circle. And today I realized perhaps one of the most important things I’ve come to know from my experience is myself. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve learned a lot about the way I think, the way I perceive the world around me, and the ways in which my “needy” title is actually a good thing.

“If you want to feel rich, count the gifts you have that money can’t buy.” I don’t actually know who said these words, but I do know how they make me feel. I’ve stumbled upon great fortune during this journey of self discovery. Some people call me needy. I prefer to see myself as an ambassador of great fortune to all who will take it. Joy. From the ground up, that is my gift to give. You tell me whether it’s worth taking.

 

My Open Heart October 25, 2013

This just in – I’m being invaded. It started with diapers. Then the strange furniture (including the bed called a crib that I can’t jump into). But that could not have prepared me for this. Mom has entered something called the third trimester. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I do know the volume of baby-related buying seems to have increased exponentially in recent days and weeks.

I’m starting to wonder whether there will be any room for the little person amongst all of this stuff. Blankets and diapers and play gyms and diapers. (Did I mention diapers?) But I have noticed something amongst the village of boxes that have accumulated in what my people are calling the nursery recently I couldn’t help but share.

ContentmentMe. I’m all over the place. Or at least a dog that very closely resembles me is all over the place. On the bedding, on the changing table, on the blankets and sheets. There is a little bit of Wiley love scattered throughout the room. And I’m humbled as well as contented by this keen observation of mine.

Contentment. That is a big word in a society that seeks to consume. It’s different than gratitude and yet I know the two are dependent on each other. Contentment. That’s what I felt as I lounged on my rug in this room called the nursery. I’m drawn to it for some reason (and no, I don’t think it’s because of the dog on the bedding who looks like me). I’m not sure how to explain the special connection I have to this one little room in my forever home other than to say it really doesn’t have anything to do with the village of boxes it encompasses.

“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us,” writes Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance, “but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”

So I’m being invaded. By diapers and blankets and onesies (whatever those are). But none of it really matters as much as knowing the contentment that accompanies the overwhelming joy that fills our house in this exciting time. And for that my open heart is forever grateful.

 

A (Sun)day In The Life October 6, 2013

There is simply no excuse for me. I have no good reason for not attending the Out of the Darkness Paws for Prevention walk as promised today. Granted, it would have been tough to do without my driver (aka mom) deciding to go. Which she didn’t.

Instead I was incredibly lazy. Let’s be honest – my days are generally fairly laid back. But today I felt particularly lazy as my people hustled and bustled all over the house. The windows were open to let the beautiful fall air in and dad worked on something stinky in the baby’s room. That paint stuff is for the dogs. I don’t like it.

So I stayed close to mom in the kitchen. Boy, she was busy in there today. First, it smelled spicy with what I heard her call chili. Then the meaty goodness mixed with a sweetness she called apple pumpkin soup. (There was bacon involved with this because I scored a few nibbles when dad wasn’t looking). Finally, jambalaya joined the mix. It was definitely better than the paint smell, but I was basically hungry all day long thanks to the delicious odors wafting through the air.

Outside was busy too. The hum of leaf blowers was prominent throughout the day as this is the price my people and their neighbors pay for the beautiful trees that line the street. And then I got a visit from two little boys from down the street. I tried to hug them, but I don’t think they cared too much for that. They were focused on collecting orders for Christmas wreaths. In early October.

Here I was appreciating the fabulousness of all things fall and apparently we are fast-tracking to Christmas already. I didn’t expect mom to buy one because the season is so far away. But she has been in the habit of surprising me lately, and today she did not disappoint.

So we are all set for Christmas now, at least as it pertains to the wreath for the front door. And at first I felt kind of irritated about it. What about Halloween? And Thanksgiving (which might just be my favorite people holiday)? Then I remembered that thing I like to find in all situations. The silver lining.

December may seem far away. But it’s not. Which means all of the joy of the holidays is not far away. While I am a believer in living in the joy of the season year-round, Christmas is a time when joy abounds all around me. It’s one thing to believe something on the inside. It’s another thing to be completely enveloped with it on the outside.

I didn’t have to go to the Paws for Prevention walk today to know that. To know the importance of sharing my joy from the ground up with whomever will take it. I do feel badly about breaking my promise to attend the important event. But I know I was where I was supposed to be today. Soaking it all in. Life. From the ground up. It looks pretty good to me.

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Cheering For The Team September 8, 2013

It’s easy for me to forget sometimes. I go about my days seeking good in all people, places and things so why on Earth would I ever prepare for the worst? Instead I always expect the best. I guess you could say I’ve come to a place in my optimistic philosophy of life where I take good things for granted.

Because it’s not always good news. Sometimes the worst is reality. Like when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. Or there was a car crash. Or there is something terribly wrong with the baby.

It didn’t even occur to me that something could be wrong with the baby. I know mom has been nervous enough about that for the lot of us, but I just assumed that all is well and in approximately 19 more weeks my little person will arrive home happy and healthy. Apparently that may not be the case.

The big ultrasound happened about a week and a half ago. The exciting one. You know, the one where they could find out the sex of the baby? But I’ve decided to continue withholding the results of that particular portion of the test. Because that’s not all it involved. From what I could tell from the conversation that followed the appointment, that wasn’t even the focus. Rather, the true purpose of the ultrasound was to see the baby. Measure the baby. Make sure the baby’s organs are developing in the right places inside the body.Hope

Hearing all of this shocked me to my little doggie core. Well of course the baby looks good, is growing at a healthy pace and has a heart inside its little baby body, I thought. Right? A technician named Steve did the procedure, and he calmly talked them through everything. He explained what he was looking for as he took various pictures, and alas I was right. Each and everything he checked looked perfectly healthy.

What a blessing! And to think I just assumed it to be so. Albeit fabulous news, this was somewhat of a sobering reminder of all of the things that could still go wrong. The worst could still happen. But I realized something today.

My parents were dressing up in their usual Packer Sunday football garb and my little doggie Packer jersey was thrown into the mix. I pictured this happening with my little person someday soon so we would be a happy family of Packer fans cheering on our team.

To cheer on our team. That’s why I think I function in my optimistic bubble of positivity. But like anything, I find myself reminded that we need balance. Because sometimes we get benched. Or injured. Or our career ends forever. Preparing for the worst while expecting the best doesn’t make us weaker. It makes us stronger. That’s easy for me to forget sometimes.