Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Happiness Project May 6, 2014

It happens all the time. Mom buys a book with all the best intentions of reading every last page and it sits. Sometimes in a pile on the nightstand where there is a (slightly better) chance it will get read. Other times in the living room by the couch or (worse yet) in the book case. I shouldn’t be too hard on her since she hasn’t had much free time since she brought home my little person.Happiness.

But I got to thinking today about the books on the nightstand. The coveted could-soon-be-read-or-at-least-paged-through spot. The same four books have been in this spot for quite some time now, including “Your Baby’s First Year” and “What to Expect The First Year.” As baby Carter is now four months old, these two have been paged through from time to time in what I can only describe as a studious manner. That leaves the dynamic duo otherwise known as “The Happiness Project” and “Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life With Words.”

I find it slightly ironic these two should find themselves in the pleasure reading place in life, as mom finds happiness in words. This is something we have in common, I realized today when it only took two words to lighten my heart. Car ride. From the ground up, it’s no secret this is one of my very most favorite people phrases. And today it happened out of the blue. I am no dummy. I know when my people are getting ready to go somewhere together. Especially now when it takes them 15 extra minutes to pack up Carter and the diaper bag and whatever other baby-related things they deem necessary to bring along. When it happened tonight, I excused myself to the bedroom to resume my first evening nap.

That’s when it happened. Car ride? Silly dad. Of course the answer to that question is always yes. It wasn’t to anywhere special, but that didn’t matter. It never does.

What does matter, I realized today as I gleefully hopped in the car, is having those words in your life that free your soul and bring joy to your heart. Whether they come from books, from loved ones or from a complete stranger, they are as important as the air we breathe. I may not be able to speak such things, but I know it to be true and find other ways to show it. That is my own personal happiness project.

 

Rewriting the Story December 8, 2013

Thirteen. That is how many baby- and pregnancy-related books I counted in the Schmidt home today. If you ask me that is thirteen too many. Between the books and the pamphlets from the hospital and the email subscriptions and the web sites, my forever mom has become a battle bot of knowledge on all things baby.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Nothing of the sort. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – knowledge is power. But my observations lately inform me that information overload is not such a good thing either. Especially when third trimester hormones are involved. Too much information is making it very easy for her to feel overwhelmed, incapable, frustrated and fatigued. None of these are emotions I like to allow in the Schmidt home for too long if I can help it.

No more reading!But alas, my lack of opposable thumbs has kept me from removing the books from the residence. And (even if I did) she would still have all of the Internet resources at her fingertips. So you can imagine my relief when something magical happened today. The baby, my future little person, did the work for me.

It was freaky. And beautiful. And absurd. And amazing. I saw the baby move today. And it was all of these things and more to me. Mom has been seeing the little person moving for a couple of weeks now, but this was the first time I witnessed the miracle firstpaw. My stomach somersaulted when it happened, much like the baby appeared to be doing.

That’s when I realized I have nothing to worry about. There isn’t much I can do about the barrage of baby books throughout the house. (Thirteen, to be exact. But who’s counting?) Instead I have resolved to resume my stance that knowledge is power. Because I know that (like me) mom learns best by experiencing something. Living in the moment has much more profound an impact than words on a page.

So in that moment, when I could see mom’s tummy moving to and fro, I found comfort in the truth. It doesn’t matter what the baby books say. That little person will rewrite the story as soon as he or she is born. Forget the baby books. That is the story I can’t wait to start reading.

 

Catching Fire: Seeing A Glimmer of Hope Amidst the Flames January 30, 2013

Words never cease to amaze me. Understanding their meanings ignites a fire of passion within me I can’t explain. So today I examine one of many words in the English language that (in my humble opinion) has completely contradictory definitions.

Spark. “Fiery particle: a small piece of burning substance thrown off in combustion or produced in friction,” says Bing. Literally, a spark that catches fire can cause destruction, devastation and heartbreak. Yet in another breath, spark is defined as “something that activates: a device that sets off or acts as a stimulant, inspiration, or catalyst.” Figuratively, a spark catching fire can ignite positive change.

Can this one word really mean both things?

Hope Catching Fire

Literally, I find myself pondering what would happen in the case of a fire in my life. Say my beloved forever home burns to the ground tomorrow. What would I save? Assuming my mom and dad are safely outside, I can think of five things I would have time to rescue before it would be too late.

Peanut butter. I love the stuff. And if the house burned down, I would want to know I had some to get me through the emotional eating that would likely follow the devastating loss of what I thought would be my forever home. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but “you’re only given one little spark of madness,” as comedian Robin Williams said. “You mustn’t lose it.”

Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. This book has been an inspiration to me so far this year. It helps keep me focused, encourages me with creative thoughts for this blog, and reminds me daily how lucky I am to be alive. Similar fundamental values of life inspired French poet and novelist best known for the heart-wrenchingly beautiful Les Miserables, who once said “to learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”

Mrs. Prickles.  If I could take all my toys I would, but she is my favorite. From playtime with my mom and dad, to her comforting ability to help me regulate my stress level, I love her and all she embodies. “To cement a new friendship…a spark with which both were secretly charged must fly from person to person and cut across the accidents of place and time,” said American author and actress Cornelia Otis Skinner. A true friend, Mrs. Prickles is my constant reminder that without sorrow there would be no joy.

My blog. I was going to say I would save my laptop since losing everything in a fire would be devastating, and I’m sure I could cope if I knew I could still find joy in something. For me, this blog is joy and I don’t think I’d know what to do with myself if I couldn’t share it anymore. But let’s face it. My positive attitude cannot be burned in a fire, and the blog would go on without the laptop. “Computers are magnificent tools for the realization of our dreams,” as computer guru Louis Gerstner said, “but no machine can replace the human spark of spirit, compassion, love and understanding.”

And so we come to the last and most important source of my own personal spirit, compassion, love and understanding. My adoption papers. Clearance dog or otherwise, these papers are priceless to me. As Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance, they are my very own treasure map to happiness. My ticket to my forever home. My inspiration for living.

“The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born,”  French sculptor Auguste Rodin once said. “The artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation.”

I see joy in the contradiction of a spark, and it consumes me because I see a glimmer of hope amidst the flames.Hope Catching Fire