Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Winter Doldrums Cure March 6, 2015

I know it happens in the winter months around here. It’s one of those things I have gotten used to, living where I do in the fine state of Wisconsin. And, as much as I might prefer to whine and moan about it, I know it’s for my own good.

From late October through some mysterious time in spring, I simply don’t spend much time outside. My time in my backyard paradise gets limited primarily to practical things, and my dear forever mom and I don’t walk the neighborhood much. If at all. Car rides are also limited. And the dog park? Forget about it. It’s a wasteland anyway, because a lot of other pet parents feel the same way about having their dogs out in negative-degree temperatures. Running Joy

So when mom said the magic words this morning, my heart about jumped out of my chest. (Especially because I also heard her say it was seven degrees outside a few minutes prior). Car ride. From the ground up, it is one of my favorite things to hear. Off we went, mom, dear baby Carter and I, on a car ride to the groomer.

It’s a place I like more than I think I should. I don’t necessarily like the grooming part, but the socialization is unparalleled. Today did not disappoint either, as I saw my pal Jack. He’s one of the dogs who hangs out there on a daily basis, so I’ve come to know him pretty well during my times there.

It turns out I didn’t know something pretty important about him. He too has been a big puppy brother to two little people who were not very far apart in age. And he survived. Well, more than that. He loved it. Sure, there was the tail and fur pulling phase. And the newborn screams that pierce straight through to one’s brain. But the playtime. He said that’s the best.

It was an interesting perspective to hear, especially since I’ve admittedly had my concerns about having another little person to look after. I already knew it would be okay, but it was refreshing to hear about it from someone who’s been there. Especially since he said one of the best things about having two little people around is that it makes these long, cooped up winters around here not feel as long.

Because let’s face it. It’s pretty terrible being trapped inside for so many months of the year. We usually don’t know how long it will be until it’s finally over. But the little people with all of their crazy ways have a way of keeping things busy in a way that truly warms my heart. That doesn’t mean I’m not sure as anxious for spring as everyone else around here. It just means I know I have something pretty special to tide me over until it arrives.

 

 

 

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.

 

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart April 30, 2014

Going to get ice cream!I don’t know why it happens. Nor do I honestly understand what it means. Heartburn. From the ground up, this is one of these mysteries I can tell is destined to never be solved for me.

Here is what I know. It was bad for dad for a while until he made some changes to his diet and it seemed to improve. It was awful for mom throughout pregnancy and has stuck around for the aftermath, at least to some extent. It seems to happen when they eat spicy or acidy foods, and yet they don’t stop eating spicy foods. Lasagna. Enchiladas. Pizza. These are all things I can smell in all of their deliciousness, and I always know what is coming.

Heartburn. Discomfort that makes one (or both) of them irritable, uncomfortable and upset. Whenever it happens, I fight the urge to say I told you so. That, and I have no way of actually saying such a thing to them. Because my doggie mind definitely understands the concept behind cause and effect. Stimulus and response. Behavior and treat. Or, in the case of heartburn, the opposite of a treat.

Except for times like tonight when heartburn leads to happy things. Tonight dad’s heartburn prompted a family car ride to get ice cream. Which is funny because I’ve heard there is no scientific proof that dairy does any good to help heartburn. But tonight I was reminded it doesn’t have to.

Because I think the car ride did the trick itself. My people would tell you I’m mad (which, let’s face it, I was when I didn’t get even a sample of the deliciousness). I would argue I’m logical. It’s happened before and it happened again today. Cause and effect. Which is ironic since I don’t really understand the concept of heartburn other than what comes after the cause and effect.

It’s not the worst thing when they both get heartburn bad enough to merit such a trip. I wish no pain for them (ever), and yet I always get excited when they have an especially acidy or spicy meal. I know what’s coming. Sure, it isn’t always a car ride to get ice cream, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s the idea, the memory, the tradition, that brings me joy. From the ground up, that is heart burn to me. I know I’ve got it all wrong, but I don’t care. Don’t go breaking my heart. Because this heart loves to burn.

 

 

Riding in the Backseat March 14, 2014

This whole time I thought I had them both trained. Hoodwinked, if you will. In most respects, it is me they have trained, but not this one. This one was mine. This one I had in the bag. At least until today.

For almost four years, I have had my choice of seating on car rides. Front seat. Passenger seat. Back seat. They were all mine for the taking, regardless of what person of mine may be also occupying that spot. And it has been a variety of folks – from my great-grandparents to my new little person, it has been a variety of folks to share my place with. I just shove my cute little behind into the spot and give the person “the look” and they can’t say no.

That all changed today. Today I got in the car to discover some sort of seat contraption that appeared to be crafted in a way to limit my seating choices. The way it was installed communicated that I was to stay in the backseat regardless of my previous communication of appreciation for the front seat. I very much liked my spot with mom and/or dad in the commander seating that is the front seat and felt like I had been somehow disbarred.

That is until I remembered it isn’t just mom and dad anymore. Now it’s mom and dad and baby Carter. My little person. And he is safely secured in what I can only describe as an incredibly sturdy space shuttle of a car seat in the back seat I formerly despised.

I will be honest – I still prefer the front seat with my forever mom and dad. But at least the silver lining of this newly enforced regulation seems to be two fold. First, that dad insists its safer for me than if I were in front in the case there would be a crash. And second, that I get to be with my little person.

He’s not very aware yet, but he’s getting there. He’s started smiling responsively to my people, which makes them happy, which makes me happy. And I hope someday soon he responds to me like baby Alexis who smiles and giggles with glee in my presence.

Until then, I’m still happy to be sharing the backseat with him because I know there is more to it than that. From the backseat I can be his buddy. From the backseat I can be his friend. Really that is what matters in the long run. Amidst all that I can’t even remember why I cared about the front seat so much anyway.

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Accidents Happen February 5, 2014

Left behind. That’s how I felt when mom packed up baby Carter to go on a car ride without me today. The way she was bustling around the house, I knew adventure was on the horizon. And where there’s adventure, there’s Wiley if I have anything to say about it. But when mom left, I wasn’t on the car ride manifest.

Instead there I was, in my beloved spot in the window seat, left behind. I felt pretty bad about it too, at least until mom came back earlier than I anticipated. I could tell right away something was wrong. It wasn’t until I heard the story that I understood what happened.
It's All Right
Mom was in a car accident. She rear-ended a car on an off ramp of the freeway on her way to the mall (where she intended to window shop with Carter). We got snow last night and the ramp was not salted, she explained to whoever she was talking to on her cell phone, so there was nothing she could do to stop in time. I felt my heart jump into my throat as I listed to her recall the experience.

Something pretty awful could have happened to my forever mom and my little person today. And here I was feeling sorry for myself being left at home. I certainly learned my lesson, but there’s more to it than that. Again I observed mom disappointed. Upset. Crying. I really hate when she cries.

Suddenly I didn’t feel left behind anymore. I realized with a start that these things happen. Accidents. They have a way of happening at the most inconvenient of times and bringing people down in the process. But they do happen. It reminds me of something I’ve seen on a commercial for Suburu. The accident that happened today wasn’t nearly as intense (or scary) as the ones highlighted in the commercial, the lesson remains. They lived.

It was awful. It happened at an inopportune time. But they lived. That’s what matters.

 

The New Normal January 31, 2014

This I did not expect. Or at least not to the extent to which it’s happened. Change. From the ground up, change has been the name of the game in the Schmidt household for the last month. One month ago today, my little person entered the world. Happy One Month!

This Boppy Thing is for me right?I thought I was ready. From the gadgets scattered all over the house (most of which I didn’t understand) to the stacks of baby books I helped mom page through, we were set. But I was wrong. What I wasn’t expecting was admittedly the most obvious of things. Change. To my days. To my nights. My life as I knew it has not been the same.

We canines are creatures of habit. We love our routines. Prior to baby Carter’s arrival, I had come quite accustomed to the everyday routine around here. That has all been thrown to the wayside for the last four weeks or so, and I can’t say I liked it at first.

But today I occurred to me. Dad asked if I wanted to go on a car ride, my first with my little person and my forever people. It was a short ride involving the thing my people call errands, but it meant the whole wide world to me that I was invited along to enjoy the occasion.

That’s when my heart and mind came together in the realization that it’s going to be okay. This is our new normal. We’ve settled into new habits and new routines. There are remnants of the time before that have melded seamlessly with all that has changed. Sleep is still tough to come by (for all of us), but most other things have hit a stride. And my people are happy (albeit overtired) so that means I am happy.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” American self-help writer suggests.

I’ve never been that big a fan of change. I wasn’t expecting it, wasn’t prepared for it, and now that it is happening, I can’t say I liked it at first. But one month ago today, my life changed forever. We may not be getting much sleep. And literally everything about our routine has been uprooted and updated. But this new normal looks pretty good from where I’m sitting. Change. From the ground up, it’s not so bad after all.

 

When You’re Down January 26, 2014

Please don’t laugh. It was a big time adventure for mom and I today. She took me with her to an especially exciting destination on what was her first venture out of the house in almost a week. The grocery store! It doesn’t mean much for me, other than a brief car ride to and from, with a quick nap on the driver’s seat in between.On the Road Again

But it was more than that. I was mom’s copilot again. Amidst the last several weeks since baby Carter’s arrival, I’ve missed alone time with her. So that made what some might call a routine drive into something kind of special for me. And then it happened.

I looked around and noticed some serious changes since my last car ride around the holidays. It was all holly and jolly with twinkle lights and Christmas wreaths and joy. From the ground up, the holiday season was everywhere.

Not anymore. Today was a dreary day in Wisconsin. I don’t even think it hit the anticipated high of 26 degrees. And we face more frigid temperatures (with wind chills estimated in the -50 degree range) in the days to come. The sky was grey. And there are no twinkle lights left to bring any holly or jolly. To be honest, it is a pretty depressing sight to be seen.

So there are no more twinkle lights. We just need to make our own. I know it’s silly, but I found such joy in my car ride today. Because I’m not in the business of all things sad. As mom went inside the grocery store and I cuddled into a cozy ball, I fought to find a silver lining in these doldrums that surround us.

I know its tough not to let such things take a negative effect on emotions. But thinking about the negative inspires positivity for me. That is what joy from the ground up is all about. When you’re down, there is no where to go but up. Or on a car ride to nowhere. That always does the trick.

 

A Spoonful of Sugar December 26, 2013

Apparently I have gotten a wee bit chubby. Maybe it was the tiny piece of leftover bacon I scored at brunch this morning. Or the doggie treats under any of the three Christmas trees I’ve visited in recent days. Whoever thought having a routine checkup the day after a major holiday clearly wasn’t giving me the benefit of the doubt.Do I look chubby?

Nonetheless, Dr. Morrison’s exact words to mom during today’s annual pilgrimage to the vet clinic echoed through the room. “We don’t want him to put on any more weight,” she said as she grabbed around by my hind quarters. Excuse me madam, I wanted to say, but I’d guess the majority of folks I know to be up a pound or two after the caloric splurge known as the holiday season.

Little did I know there were more stingers headed my way in the form of shots for things I don’t understand. Three shots, to be exact, each one a bit more painful than the last. That followed other poking and prodding, none of which was very pleasant. Overall, the experience was not my favorite thing in the world.

But it wasn’t the worst either. In spite of the aforementioned weight gain, I got all kinds of yummy treats. And the best part was when Dr. Morrison first came in to see me and asked how her “favorite terrier” has been doing. Or maybe it was when the veterinary nurse kept petting me and telling me how cute I am. Or when the doctor said she thinks I’m going to be a very good dog with my soon-to-be little person.

Either way, I realized something as I snuggled a little closer than usual into mom on the car ride home. We don’t always know what’s good for us. Like me, with my almost obsessive urge to sink my teeth into a piece of the apparent delicacy known as chocolate. Or my aversion to the vet clinic.

In reality, we all need checkups every now and then. Not just for our physical health, but also for our mental and spiritual well-being. And it’s not always easy to take the criticism and advice that comes along with these checkups. But we need them. And they’re definitely a little bit easier to take with a little sugar. Or compliments in my case (since I’m going to be watching my waistline more closely). That Mary Poppins was on to something. A spoonful of compliments makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way.

 

May The Force Be With You October 1, 2013

Some love it. Passionately. Others hate it. Fervently. Regardless of which side of the Star Wars opinion fence you fall on, I think we can all agree about one thing: the force? It’s pretty cool. Using your mind to control your surroundings? Believe me, in a dog’s life of silence that would be a game changer. Use The Force

I occasionally find myself wishing I could use the force for a variety of things. But no matter how hard I focus on that food on my mom’s plate, it does not make its way to my mouth as I will it to. The same can be said of doors. I frequently long to open doors with my mind. Most recently, I caught myself willing the car door to open and alas! It did! But it wasn’t my mind that did the opening – I looked up to discover it was my dad who opened the door so I could hop inside.

Since then, I’ve noticed he does this for my mom too, though I don’t understand why since she can do it herself. (I obviously don’t have this luxury). It wasn’t until yesterday when my dad’s friend Josh was visiting that I pieced together this mysterious puzzle. Mom, dad, and Josh were having a conversation in what will become the baby’s room. I was listening comfortably from the cozy new rug they put in there (which is my new favorite spot to think) when Josh said something that caught my attention.

He’s thinking of adopting a dog, and he’s looking specifically for a Beagle rescue. Apparently there aren’t very many nearby so he’s thinking of taking a day trip with his two-year-old nephew to one about two hours south of here in a place called Chicago. When mom mentioned it was cute he was thinking of bringing his nephew, I got my answer. “Well I want to make sure the puppy gets along with kids,” Josh replied.

Josh is currently single, but he is looking forward to meeting his future spouse and starting a family (I think people call it settling down, though I’m not quite sure what exactly they’re settling down from). Mom melted when he said this, and that’s when I realized something very important about the way “the force” can work in real life.

It’s no secret I’m a mama’s boy, so I’ve always been a proponent of treating a lady a certain way. It is probably no surprise that these feelings feed my belief that chivalry and romance are not dead. Little things (from opening a car door) to big things (like planning a future) all make a difference in both the development and maintenance of lasting relationships. It’s like the force of today. And even if you are not a fan of Yoda and his pals, you have to admit the force is a pretty neat idea. Idea it is. Reality it is not. Except when it’s used in ways I’ve come to understand as chivalry. And romance. Indeed there is a certain force a man can have, perhaps not with his mental will, but with his heart.

 

Car Ride To Nowhere September 23, 2013

I went on a car ride to nowhere today. Well, it wasn’t exactly nowhere. It was to a place called Best Buy to get some kind of gadget I don’t understand. Dogs aren’t allowed inside, so I can’t say it is one of my favorite people stores (like Petco and Pet World, for example). And I didn’t get out of the car at all. Loving Life

But that didn’t really matter to me. What mattered was the context of my outing to nowhere: the company I kept. It was a random car ride on what I’ve come to recognize as a weeknight and (gasp) it was dad’s idea to have me come along. This is normal for mom (who regularly brings me along on those things called errands) but not for dad.

Mom frequently brings me along as we make our way from parking lot to parking lot. Not dad. He gets anxious when I voice my excitement about wherever we’re going (usually in the context of a whine or whimper). Not tonight. Tonight he wanted me by his side. He wanted his little copilot as he occasionally calls me when mom’s not around.

To be honest, it didn’t really matter to me where we went. It never does. But tonight was special to me even though we didn’t go to the park. Or the pet store. Or to see Mary the groomer (even though I’m overdue for a trim). Tonight we didn’t go anywhere in particular as far as I’m concerned. Best Buy doesn’t count since I can’t go inside and they apparently don’t sell anything for dogs there. In spite of that, it was a pretty great ride. It occurred to me as I waited patiently in the driver’s seat while dad was in the store. Even when you’re going nowhere, you really are going somewhere if you’re with the right person.

It brought to mind the thoughts of American sideshow performer Elizabeth Green, who once suggested “sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people.”

I’m blessed enough that regular car rides are a fairly routine luxury for me. It’s nice when we end up somewhere like the dog park or the groomer, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter where we end up. Even if its at that Best Buy place where they don’t even sell dog toys (what kind of store with that many gadgets doesn’t carry dog toys?). Even if I don’t get out of the car at all. It doesn’t matter where we’re going nearly as much as who we’re with along the way.