Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Never Gonna Keep Me Down November 29, 2014

It started so very small. A couple of baby steps a few weeks ago was all it took to get the proverbial ball rolling. Each day since then, the steps have gotten bigger and gone farther, as they tend to do with practice. Meanwhile, I stand by and watch it all unfold.

It can only be described as persistence. Or maybe stubbornness. What I’ve been witnessing around here is truly a study in little person behavior. It’s nothing new, as I know it happens to most babies. But it’s new to me, and what I’m learning from watching it all unfold is surprisingly insightful.Feeling Thoughtful

What stands out to me most prominently is how much trial and error is involved in the process of dear baby Carter learning how to walk. He has these unmistakable bursts of energy when all he does is walk. And fall. And walk. And fall. The process is one that has involved as many falls as it has steps, which I’d like to say are getting easier for all of us to see. But really it’s still hard to stand on the sidelines, fully capable of walking, and watch this dear little being struggle so desperately.

Especially today, when the poor little guy just couldn’t catch a break. Sure, he walked farther than he did yesterday. But he fell too. A lot. And he kept bumping his little head on things as he did it. Nothing scary enough to worry about, but I’m not going to lie to you. It was pretty tough to see.

What there is to be learned from all of this, though, is no small feat. First of all, starting small and building slowly is a recipe for both short- and long-term success in my book. Beyond that, persistence is virtue. He gets knocked down, he falls out of balance, he stumbles. We all do. But he gets back up every single time. No matter what. And he keeps going.

Life has a way of tripping us up from time to time. Making us lose our footing. Maybe even causing us to call into questions choices or decisions we’ve made. The way I see it, none of this happens without a cause. A good one. Perseverance. From the ground up, that is the word I would use to summarize what I’ve been witnessing around here.

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish,” said American president John Quincy Adams. While I have mixed feelings about patience, I do believe in the power of perseverance. That’s why I know in my heart Carter will soon be walking without an issue. Challenges will never stop getting in the way, but with enough passion and drive they don’t stand a chance.

 

True or False? March 16, 2014

It happens pretty frequently if you ask me. Not so much to me personally, for which I am thankful. But it seems to happen a lot to the people I love. You see, I am a big supporter of the meaning of the little things in life. The simple things. That is why I can with absolute certainty that the unknown confuses me on a pretty regular basis.

Again, this is not of my own doing. I have a pretty simple life devoid of stress over the big or little questions. Most of my big questions are answered by others. What will I have for dinner? Where will I spend my day today? What is my purpose in life? It’s a fairly sure thing that every day will bring the same answers to these questions.  My regular kibble will be in my bowl in the forever home in which I will spend my day doing what I do best – bringing joy to whoever will take it.

Be What You BelieveThe same cannot be said for people. I frequently observe lengthy conversations about things as simple as what to have for dinner and as complex as one’s true purpose. And I’m not going to lie – it confuses me. Oftentimes I wish there would be a way for me to provide an answer as easy as the question seems.

I thought of this today as I watched baby Carter sleeping. I thought of all the questions – big and small – he has to encounter throughout his life. And so I wished I could tell him some of what I’ve learned from my observations – the first being that things that are true are often also false. It depends on how you flip the coin or how you view the glass. Since my glass is half full, so are three of my most important life lessons.

Believe what you think. It might not always be good, but follow your heart and you will find peace with your choices.

Believe what you feel. Good or bad, another person’s opinion is only as real as you let it be.

Be what you believe. What you feel in your heart is powerful. Embrace it and let it guide you.

I have so much I hope to teach baby Carter in the time we have together, but these simple truths are among the most important. Especially since it seems to happen pretty frequently among the two-legged population – this game of questions and answers. Most times I am thankful for not having the same questions to answer every day. But today I realized that it wouldn’t matter even if I did. Because in spite of it all, I am what I believe.

 

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.

 

A Moment of Magic October 31, 2013

I don’t believe in magic. Not in the traditional sense at least. The whole now you see me, now you don’t idea? What fun is that anyway? But I will never forget the day I discovered a different kind of magic.

To the rest of the world it was Halloween. To me, it was Jo’s eighth birthday. That’s all that mattered. I had been living with her and the man with the leather belt for a few months, and had seen my fair share of things I still wish I hadn’t. But this was a day to remember for all the right reasons.My Kind of Magic

This was the one time I ever witnessed Jo and the man with the leather belt happy at the same time. I was surprised he remembered the day at all, since he was usually pretty forgetful about basic things like having anything besides frozen pizza and beer in the fridge. But alas, he surprised us both. After dinner (he actually cooked something), he got out a pink cupcake with a single candle on it and sang happy birthday to her. I sat by her side, proud and humbled to share in such a special moment. Then he gave her a present. It wasn’t wrapped (it was still in the Toys ‘R Us bag) but that was beside the point.

It was magic. Literally. He gave her a 100-peice magic set. “I had one when I was about your age, so I thought maybe you’d like it,” he told her. She loved it. They spent the next few hours experimenting and doing something I’d never seen them to before. They laughed together.

That was the real magic. Magic is in moments like these. Moments brought to life by a power within us to believe. “Magic flows through us,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance, “mystery infuses every encounter of every day…You have no idea of the countless lives you touch in the course of a lifetime.”

My life was touched that day by something special. I may not believe in the hocus pocus kind of magic, but that day I became a believer in a whole other kind of magic entirely. I became a believer that the power is within us to live this magic in our daily lives. To find and embrace moments of pure joy is a magic all its own.

 

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/

 

Singing in the Rainbows February 27, 2013

Singing in the RainbowsTwenty. That is the magic number of beliefs Darren Hayes of Savage Garden rattles off in “Affirmation.” I can’t say I agree with all twenty thoughts, but I know what is true to me. “I don’t believe. I know,” as analytical psychologist Carl Jung said.

Why is it then that some days it isn’t easy to know or believe? You know the ones. Those “one of those days” kind of days, when literally everything that can go wrong actually does. I remember one particularly awful day in the house I lived in before my forever family found me. It was spring, and there was a really big storm that clambered on all night. Sharing that home with three other dogs and two cats made me realize how well I do in thunderstorms compared to other dogs. Burt, the seven-year-old black lab mix, howled all night long.

The alarm didn’t go off the next morning because I’m convinced Burt broke the power with all his howling. Barbara and Jim woke up late, irritable and exhausted. Barbara got a run in her nylons, burned her forehead with her curling iron, and spilled coffee on her coat as she ran out the door. James forgot to feed us before he left for work. None of the animals got along that day. That was the day I realized negativity is unfortunately just as contagious as optimism.

But much like the storm that came before it, the day came to a close and we were all reminded that even “those days” will pass. And that’s when rainbows happen.

Regardless of what you choose to believe, I am finding the spiritual awakening in Simple Abundance to be as real as the rainbows that follow storms. “With each day of the journey, you have become more open to the mystery, the magic and the majesty of the Master Plan because you are committed to your spiritual awakening,” Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests. “You don’t have to just believe anymore because you know.”

Sure, it is sometimes easier to throw up my paws and believe the world has turned its back on me. Sometimes it is easier not to believe or know anything for certain. But I’ve never been one to do things the easy way.

 

Writing my way to through Simple Abundance – Day One January 1, 2013

A new me in 2013? I hope so.Thirteen years ago Sarah Ban Breathnach had a simple idea that ended up changing her life forever. In Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, she set out to write an honest commentary on some of life’s most pressing questions.

“I knew I wasn’t the only woman hurtling through real life as if it were an out-of-body experience,” she writes in the foreword, “…But I also knew I certainly wasn’t the woman with the answers. I didn’t even know the questions.”

I will be the first to admit I laid out some pretty lofty goals for myself in 2013. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to find a practical way to hold myself accountable for how well I remember Christmas, love actively and live life backwards every day.

Reading the last few words of Breathnach’s foreward in Simple Abundance showed me how.

“Reading books changes lives. So does writing them. May Simple Abundance, through its gentle lessons of comfort and joy, help you find the authentic life you were born to live.”

And so begins my year-long journey to find the authentic life I was born to live…from my humble perspective. Joy, from the ground up.

Day one. New Year’s Day. “A Transformative Year of Delight and Discovery.” Today’s reading ironically challenges me to take time to dream. Take time to reflect on my most private of aspirations. All right Sarah, here you go.In deep thought

I want to be a writer. I want people to want to read what I have to say. Most importantly, I want my words to inspire people. I know its silly. I know people might not take me, a goofy four-year-old terrier mutt, seriously.

But I’m going to take the challenge to dream big. I am going to take a leap of faith and believe that this year I will post a blog entry every day. I’m going to believe in myself. Because sometimes, that is the hardest thing to do.