Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Be The Change January 2, 2015

Sometimes when you think you’ve mastered something, life has a way of reminding you how much you have to learn. That’s how I feel about this thing called change. As a young pup, it was exciting. It was something I looked forward to and sought out at every turn. That all changed the day I lost my birth mom and brothers. That was when I decided change was not my friend. Looking Happy

I’ve never exactly feared it or disliked it, but it isn’t something I necessarily feel fondly for either. So the fact that 2014 was a year of more change than I’ve ever before encountered might sound like it made for a pretty awful time of it. I’ll admit that it wasn’t always easy, but reflecting on all that change has a way of reminding me of its value. It might be scary at first (like it was for all of us when dear baby Carter first came home from the hospital a year ago today). But as time passes, it fosters understanding and appreciation for where we’ve come from.

What that means for me is a new perspective, not just on change, but on life itself in 2015. Like most things, change is only scary if we let it be. And fear tends to do nothing but bad things to most people. So while I’m against making resolutions I would argue too frequently fall into the category of not fulfilled, I shall again set a goal for myself this year. A goal, not a resolution.

It’s not necessarily something new for me, but it reaffirms a belief that has become the foundation of who I am. It pieces together the best (and worst) parts of the past into a present that bridges the gap to a bright future. Not just for me, but for those around me and those around them if all goes well.

This year I will find more ways to be the change I want to see in the world. I will live the passion I feel in my heart, knowing that the joy I feel can light the way for those around me who might fear the change necessary to make the world a better place. It’s no small goal, I know. But it’s important.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals,” suggested American philosopher Henry David Thoreau.

I would argue that’s because sometimes when you think you’ve mastered something, life has a way of reminding you how much you have to learn. When I was a pup, I thought by exploring everything at paw’s reach I would know everything. I could do anything and everything. Now I realize how much there is left to learn that only change has a way of teaching.

 

The Truth About NYE December 31, 2014

Fancy dinners and parties and dresses and champagne. All of it is so beyond me if I’m being honest. Yet that’s what so many people will be embracing from all over the world today and tonight as we ring in the new year. There is all kinds of anticipation for this big night of refreshment and renewal and you’d probably think it’s something your resident doggie optimist would stand behind. You’d be wrong.

I actually would venture to say that this New Year’s Eve holiday is probably one of my very least favorite of those my beloved forever family chooses to celebrate. I never mind the leftover goodies from dinner (which they usually opt to make themselves at home). I definitely appreciate the extra hour or two of snuggles that happens as we all countdown to midnight. But ultimately I feel a bit like the day itself is entirely overrated.

That all changed a year ago. Dear baby Carter was born exactly a year ago today, on New Year’s Eve. I still don’t understand why I couldn’t have been there at the hospital to meet him right away, but that’s okay. I honestly had no idea the joy he would bring into our home. Into our lives.When You Wish

Beyond that, I realized as I reflected back on this year that is 2014, that he’s taught me some things about life. Perhaps most important on this eve of the new year is what he helped me figure out about this holiday. It happened every morning he woke up since the very first day he was here in our home. Rebirth. Renewal. Not every day was a good one, but that is exactly what tomorrow is for. A fresh start. A new beginning.

I think that’s what bothers me so much about this holiday. It’s not one day a year we should be celebrating life. It’s every day. Every day we wake is a blessing that should never go unnoticed. Even the challenging ones and the ones that make us wish we could go to sleep just so it can be tomorrow. Because tomorrow is indeed another day. New Year’s Day in our case. Here’s to a year filled with new beginnings.

 

What A Heart Attack Feels Like December 10, 2014

Incorrigible. That is the only word I can think of to describe dear baby Carter today. He’s now perfected the skill of feeding me straight from his high chair, but that is something I can tell my dear forever people don’t particularly appreciate. Yet he and I carry on with what I’m understanding is apparently sassy behavior.

But that’s not all. A couple of months ago he started handing things over to mom and dad when they asked for it. Today, I watched in surprise as he gestured like he was going to hand whatever object that was being requested over, and then yank it back to his chest. Every single time, there was a devilish look in his eyes, like he knows he what he was doing is mischievous. Like anything, that is all well and good in moderation. He’s a good kid and I trust mom and dad will work with him to understand the difference between sassy and polite.The causer of heart attacks

What happened tonight on the other hand made my little doggie heart stop. I think I learned tonight what a heart attack feels like.

It was after dinner time and everyone was preoccupied with something. Mom, dad and I were all cleaning house in our own way (mine involved leftover peas) when it happened. The safety gate that is, for probably about 23 and a half hours of every day, always (always) up by the stairway was not in its usual place. And Carter noticed.

Time seemed to slow to a complete halt as we all saw the worst happen before our eyes. We all could picture exactly what would happen had dad not swooped in and grabbed Carter in the last second. It wasn’t willful defiance. It was childish ignorance. And it was terrifying.

As he learns to roam the world on two feet and clap when he’s happy and wave hello and goodbye, it’s easy to forget something pretty fundamental. He still has so very much to learn. Right now, it’s pretty simple – don’t attempt to journey downstairs until you know how. But there’s something about the incorrigible look in his eyes lately that tells me I don’t have to worry. I know I won’t be around to see him grow up, but I know his persistence will one day become strength. Knowledge will become power. And if he falls down life’s proverbial stairs, he will know where to go from there.

 

A Change of Scenery October 30, 2014

I shouldn’t complain. It has been weeks, months maybe, since we last had something like this happen around here. But that doesn’t make it any less real when you’re living it. It certainly didn’t change anything about mine and mom’s reaction to it. You’d think we would be used to it by now. Trained for action, so to speak. Truth be told, I don’t think a person is ever really prepared to deal with what happened today.

The WatchdogThe funny thing is it only lasted an hour and a half. Relatively speaking, that’s not that long. In spite of relativity, I will tell you it felt like an eternity. Carter was unhappy. He was crying, real baby tears, and screaming at the top of his tiny baby lungs. I know this comes from a fairly compact dog that has a surprisingly intimidating bark, but I can’t believe how loud a sound such a small little person can make. And for how long.

Mom tried everything. He wasn’t hungry. He had a clean diaper. He seemed tired, so she put him down for a nap, which only made him scream louder. She let him cry a bit in his crib, thinking he’d fall asleep. No such luck. She rocked and swayed and cuddled him, but he wanted nothing to do with any of that. She put him on the floor to explore and he sat there like a very loud and angry stone, tears continuing to fly all over the place.

There were brief moments of peace intermixed, mostly when he was up to no good. He threw his nuk in the toilet. He opened the door to the fridge. He pulled a few things out of the lazy Susan. And my goodness, few things in life make him as happy as the television remote. I don’t think he was doing any of this to be particularly sassy, because he is generally an incredibly well behaved little man.

Whatever the reason, mom wasn’t having it. She lost her cool and scolded him a bit louder than necessary a couple times more than necessary. The crying didn’t stop until dad got home and I am not exaggerating when I say it stopped like a light switch. Like a dark knight, dad walked in the door and Carter’s epic emotional roller coaster drew to an abrupt stop.

I thought mom would be upset, given that she just literally did everything in her power to bring that train to a halt for the last hour and a half. Instead she marveled at the quiet in the house. It’s a simple thing to be sure, but truly and honestly I could almost see the relief wash over her to see Carter smiling in dad’s arms.

I know I shouldn’t complain, so I won’t. Instead I will comment as the observer of life that I am. I’m no expert in baby behavior, but I think I learned something about human behavior today. Sometimes it can seem like the world is ending, but really you just need a change of scenery to put things in perspective. When the world is spinning, control over your perspective can be the thing that gives you sound footing. From the ground up, that’s what I’ve found at least.

 

Let It Take You Over October 22, 2014

Nothing went wrong. Nothing spectacular happened either. It was pretty much your average day around the Schmidt house today. Dad went to that place called work. Mom cared for dear baby Carter when she wasn’t working. Carter was in good spirits. All was well around here.

So when it happened this afternoon, it brought an unexpected smile to my heart.

Carter has taken to spending time with dad when he gets home from work. It’s like he’s soaking up all the dad time he can, since he doesn’t see him as much as mom and I. Today was no exception, as he clung to dad while mom finished making dinner. That’s when that magic thing happened again. To me there is really other logical explanation for the emotional vacation the spirit takes when a good song makes an appearance in one’s day. Music. From the ground up, it touches the soul in a way words alone cannot.

Please let me preface this by saying dad, in general, is not a giggly person. And he doesn’t particularly care for dancing. But when One Republic’s “Good Life” came on the radio as mom was cooking and dad was holding Carter, what happened next really was its own slice of goofiness. I think dad thought mom wouldn’t see, but she has a way of noticing these kinds of things. Namely, she could hear both dad and Carter giggling like ninnies, so there was no way she wasn’t going to investigate the cause.

The scene in the living room was one that would have brought a smile to anyone’s heart. There dad was, with Carter, dancing around like a ninny to a song about living a good life. “When you’re happy like a fool, let it take you over,” Ryan Tedder sings. “When everything is out, you gotta take it in.” Good Life

That is exactly what mom and I did in that moment. As dad was happy like a fool, we took it in. And, in doing so, we were happy little fools too.

Today was just another day. Nothing went wrong. Nothing spectacular happened. It was definitely a pretty average day around the Schmidt house. That is, until that moment, when joy came alive at the hand of music and reminded us we are, indeed, living the good life.

 

Give Me A Reason October 19, 2014

I’ll admit it. I hate Mondays. I heard today there is a reason no one ever says it’s lazy like Monday morning. I know it was a play on Lionel Richie’s “Lazy Like Sunday Morning,” which I think was clever and incredibly accurate since Monday is (by far) my favorite day of the week. Thank you Artist In the Sky

It’s no secret that I love all things weekend. But I think Mr. Richie was on to something in his mention of lazy Sunday mornings. Need a reason? From the ground up, I’ll give you 3.

1. Sleep. In general, it is not the same as it used to be before dear baby Carter came into the picture. That is why I mention it in reference to the weekends, when it does happen a little more than usual. Every bit of it is precious, made even more valuable to me because it’s always more fun for me to sleep with my people than without them. That, and as Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci suggested “a well-spent day brings happy sleep.” There is nothing like happy sleep.

2. Snuggle time. Related to, yet separate from the sleep referenced above, the majority of Sundays incorporate some amount of snuggle time with my beloved forever people. It’s always hard-earned, since Sunday is also a time to get odds and ends done around the house. I think all that effort makes it even more rewarding for them to sit down and relax, which makes the snuggles all-the-more special to me. It reminds me of American poet Shel Silverstein’s words “I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.” For me, it’s more than snuggles. It’s like a hug for my heart.

3. Family fun. In the fall, it’s Packer football, pie baking, and playing in the leaves. The kind of fun we have together as a family indeed varies by the season, but I’m happily surprised to find the arrival of dear baby Carter has done nothing but add to the fun. Laughter and silliness abound in the most random of situations on a lazy Sunday when all really is well with my world. These are the things that are capable of healing the soul in a way no medicine can.

I know it’s not like your resident doggie optimist to come right out and say I don’t like something. If anything, that should tell you just how much it’s true. Because there is nothing lazy about Monday mornings. There is less sleep, snuggles and fun on Mondays. It’s that simple.

The best thing about Mondays is that Sunday is one day closer than it was the day before.

 

A Little Sunshine October 16, 2014

It’s a pretty easy thing to take for granted. It’s there so much more than it isn’t, so I think that’s part of the problem. But I’ve certainly missed it around here the last few days. Sunshine. From the ground up, its light has the power to warm the soul. Backyard Happiness

I do sincerely love and appreciate the beauty of fall and all the things it brings with it. This you know. The last few days I was reminded why I sometimes doubt my love of this spectacular season. It has been cloudy and rainy and downright dreary for four or five days now. I find its easier to lose count when you succumb to the darkness.

I didn’t even realize I had indeed let the weather get to me until the sun slowly revealed itself this afternoon. It was like seeing a long lost friend. There I was in one of my favorite spots in my forever home – the windowsill in the living room. (My beloved forever people call it my perch). As the light shined in through the blinds, I felt it warm my fur and somehow it seemed to soak right through to my soul.

It must have had a similar effect on mom, because it was a matter of a few seconds before dear baby Carter was bundled up and in his stroller and it was time for a walk around my neighborhood. The crisp fall air smelled so much better with the light shining down around us. The leaves fell from the trees in the beautiful silent way they do. I pranced. Carter giggled. Mom smiled. It was a happy moment for the three of us.

It was a reminder to me to cherish the sunshine. It was a reminder not to let the darkness get to me because the sun will shine again. It was a reminder to live in the moment instead of longing for something you can’t have. Because if you do these things, there is no way the dreary things in life can conquer your spirit. If you do these things, you bottle up the sunshine for the bad days. If you do these things, you have the power to warm your own soul, whether or not the sun is shining.

Take that, dreary Wisconsin fall.

 

On Being Joy October 14, 2014

It was just like old times. And I honestly can say I can’t recall the last time it happened. Pickle in the middle. From the ground up, this familiar favorite activity of mine stirred up a whole new sense of glee tonight. It was one of those fractions of time that simultaneously lasts forever and not long enough.

Other than the time that has passed since it has last been played, nothing in particular was different about the game itself. It still involved my forever mom and dad throwing a toy of mine back and forth between them while I pretend not to know what’s going on. I chase after it, back and forth, until I run out of steam.

Tonight was no exception. I chased and jumped and heaved and jumped and chased some more. Except this time, we had an audience. Dear baby Carter sat by, occasionally attempting an interception. And laughing. I know this is a joyful game, but I had no idea how joyful it could be until the giggling started and did not stop. It should be noted that while Carter is a happy baby, giggling is not something he takes lightly. His curious mind is continuously calculating and seeking to understand his surroundings. So this giggling sound is something of an emotional golden gem around here. For mom and dad, and (to my surprise) for me.

That thing I said about running out of steam? It was like the giggles fueled me somehow, and I kept running and jumping and heaving and running and jumping some more as a result. Carter was the one giggling, but mom and dad were so happy in these moments. Joy. From the ground up, it literally fueled my spirit today.

“There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward,” suggested Lebanese poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran.

It was easy for me to identify the fusion of the gift and reward of joy today. Because it was just like old times. Except it might have been a tiny bit better. My beloved little person has found a way to do it again. He has found a way to be joy, from the ground up.

Wiley and Carter Costumes

 

Enjoy the Ride September 21, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 8:39 pm
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I had a crazy thought today. It’s one of those things I think everyone comes across once, twice, or maybe countless times in life. But I’m not sure it happens that frequently in a dog’s life. So when it happened to me today, it took me by surprise. Time. From the ground up, the passing of time really is something you need to be a dog to understand. And today I realized how quickly time flies when there is a little person around.

I know it’s hardly a novel concept, but that doesn’t mean it was any less strange to me to come across. There was a moment today when I honest-to-goodness could not believe my dear little baby Carter has been in my life almost 9 months. It feels like yesterday when I first sniffed his tiny little self in his baby carrier when my forever people first brought him home. So it absolutely floored me when something pretty special happened in the Schmidt home this morning. The Boys

It started like most Sunday mornings do, as my parents have a tradition of spending time with Carter in the bedroom after he wakes from his first early morning nap. Carter started mumbling in his room a tad earlier than usual and mom rushed off to grab him for family snuggle time. This was all nothing out of the ordinary. That’s when it happened.

“Dada,” Carter said at first glace at his dad this morning. He looked him straight in the face and said what I think might be his first intentional and legitimate word. Sure, we’ve all sworn he’s been saying “hi” on purpose since he was a couple of months old. And yes, he immediately resumed his more normal baby babble upon completion of his (albeit epic) greeting.

But the ruling on the family field is we have a talker. And nine months ago he wasn’t even in our world yet. So I know I say it all of the time, but really is something to be said in cherishing every moment. I think I take it for granted sometimes since I already live with the understanding that a dog’s life is much too short. There is no time to waste.

Because I sometimes think of life like a roller coaster that coasts through certain parts and speeds through others. Time. From the ground up, it is a pretty precious commodity. It seems I’ve found yet another reason to hang on and enjoy the ride.

 

Within and Without September 8, 2014

Four months. That is how long it has been since it last happened. That’s about half of how long dear baby Carter has been around, a fact that has not been lost on my forever mom. Feeling thoughtful

Carter’s increased mobility has had a directly inverse relationship with his desire to snuggle with her. I’ve picked up what I can of the slack, but I can tell mom has been beside herself about this since the first time he didn’t want her to rock him to sleep at night.

All that changed today. Probably not for good, as I know Carter is loving every minute of the independence he has discovered now that he’s crawling all over the place. But that didn’t matter in these precious moments. Nor did it matter that they were preceded by almost 45 minutes of tearful and woeful crying (the kind that is capable of making a person’s heart hurt).

Because in those moments, with big ole 8-month-old Carter asleep on her lap, all was well in her world. For the first time in four months, he was sincerely and visibly calmed by her holding him close just like she did all the time all those months ago.

“When you take your attention into the present moment, a certain alertness arises,” suggested “Power of Now” author Eckhart Tolle. “You become more conscious of what’s around you, but also, strangely, a sense of presence that is both within and without.”

Mom was within and without today. And I don’t know when it will happen again, but that doesn’t matter. Because it happened today. And since we’ve all embraced the present of presence around here, that is all that really matters.