Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Headless Happy (Birthday) Chicken February 5, 2015

It’s a matter of respect for me. I won’t say how many years ago it happened, but that doesn’t change its level of importance in my life. Which is high.

Today is my forever dad’s birthday. Though that happened at least a year or two before I was around, it’s a day I pause to appreciate each year. It’s a day I couldn’t miss, too, since mom has this thing with birthdays. I’m not sure of the rationale or reasoning behind it, but its very important to her to go above and beyond to celebrate a life. A few years back...

Today was no exception. The stars aligned and (somehow) everything got done. I wouldn’t have guessed it this morning either. Between her work and all things birthday, she was running around like a headless chicken. There was cleaning and cooking and laundry and grocery shopping to be done. And there was a surprise visit with Carter to dad’s work, and later a surprise lunch date with Carter.

And everything fell into place. Work got finished. The cleaning and cooking and laundry and grocery shopping went smoothly. The surprise work visit and lunch date were a huge success. It was a good day.

I know because we’ve had some bad ones lately that days like today should be celebrated. Not just for the obvious reason that I’m elated that my dad was born all those years ago. But for the refreshing sanity I know my dear forever family feels when things go as well as they did today. It’s invigorating.

It’s also a novel idea that there can indeed be headless chicken running that doesn’t revolve around only unsatisfying chaos. Instead there was a sense of joy about it from beginning to end. Headless and happy can coexist after all.

For me, it’s a matter of respect. I won’t reveal the number behind my forever dad’s wisdom. But today I will live the words of American entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey who suggested “the more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

 

The People That Make It Real January 31, 2015

A birthday. A baby. Job news. And a whole lot of seafood.

A day like today always starts the same way around my forever home. There is a sense of wonder and merriment that resonates with my forever mom and dad especially as preparations ensue for whatever might be to come. Music plays. The table is set. And don’t get me started on the food smells. So many deliciously mouth-watering food smells.

The best part was I don’t even think everyone realized it until it was happening. It was just going to be an informal coming together for lunch. But that turned into something else pretty quick. Celebration. From the ground up, it brings joy to life in an entirely unique way.

Before

Though I’ve gathered he would (for some reason I don’t understand) prefer not to acknowledge it, dad’s birthday is in a few days. It will never make sense to me why little ones like Carter spend all year looking forward to their birthday and then it switches when adulthood hits. But I digress.

Obviously, news from earlier this week that little person no. 2 is developing well and there is nothing to be concerned about is something to embrace with all our hearts.

And dear aunt Morgan will soon be returning to (a slightly upgraded version of) work after her medical leave for her successful carpal tunnel surgeries last month.

In these things, I felt the words of a favorite American author of mine come to life.

“Let’s choose today to quench our thirst for the ‘good life’ we think others lead by acknowledging the good that already exists in our lives,” suggested Sarah Ban Breathnach. “We can then offer the universe the gift of our grateful hearts.”

Sure, I was (more than) grateful for the scraps of table food my dear Grandma snuck to me. That made for quite a delectable treat combined with the usual purposeful droppings from dear baby Carter. But there was a sense of life in the room only the joy of celebration can bring.

A baby. A birthday. Job news. And a whole lot of seafood. Today I am grateful not just for these things, but for the people in my life that make them real. They are who make mine the good life.

 

The Gift January 1, 2015

I finally found it. It took a little digging this year, but now it’s alive and well in my heart. The spirit of Christmas. From the ground up, there’s a certain appeal in the understanding and appreciation of all it has to offer. I don’t know for sure what the hold up was this year, but today I was reminded of something.

For most people, today was New Year’s Day. A day to focus on all things new and exciting. For the Schmidt family, it was Christmas. Again. Mom even dressed dear baby Carter in his special Christmas Eve pajamas again last night, so when he woke it would be (kind of) like Christmas Day. Except without the quiche and Santa and presents. But that wasn’t the point.Love Is

The point was we had another exciting day of family time to look forward to in Port Washington where my forever dad grew up. His side of the family opts to celebrate together a few days after Christmas for a variety of reasons, and while some might find this strange, it’s something I’ve come to look forward to each year.

This year did not disappoint. All the usual suspects were there, but there was someone new too. I got to meet my new doggie cousin, Jackson. At about a month old, the puppy energy he exuded was contagious from the ground up. Similar to how it is for Carter, everything is new to him. He sniffed and explored and played and explored some more. And I don’t think his little tail stopped wagging the entire time we were there.

I had to dig a little to find my Christmas spirit this year, but today reminded me of something. Sure, there were presents (again). And way too much delicious food (which I obviously scored several samples of throughout the day. Thanks, Sophie!). But that’s not what it was about.

Sometimes the things we have to dig for are most worth the effort. That certainly was the case for me this year. As we drove home and the reality that all things Christmas have now ended, the love in my heart reminded me of the most important Christmas gift of all. The gift that keeps on giving all year round. Joy. From the ground up, it brings us to life in a way few other things can.

 

 

Slow It Down July 13, 2014

It’s pretty funny to me when mom says it out loud. Mostly because when she says it, I feel like she’s bringing my thoughts to life in a way only words can. “Stop it,” she’ll say to dear baby Carter. He keeps growing and getting stronger and more independent and we all know it’s all very good. He is hitting all of the baby milestones as he should be. He’s almost crawling already for goodness sakes. It feels like yesterday he was just a teeny tiny blob of joy (and tears). So mom tells him to stop it. I know she’s being silly, but it’s true sometimes.Life.

I think it’s kind of like wanting to hit the pause button on a beautiful moment. We’ve had a lot of those lately.

Like today, when we as family celebrated the birthday of my forever mom. She turned 29 today, and with that came a variety of moments I wished I could slow down. Moments I wish I could pause. Like the special time we all shared cuddling together this morning. Her and dad and baby Carter and I. Or the breakfast mom and dad shared on the patio. Or when aunt Morgan came to watch Carter and I while mom and dad went exploring somewhere. Or when they came back with treats for everyone. Or when Carter fell asleep on mom for the first time in a long time and she cried tears of joy. Or when mom and baby Carter swam laps around the neighbor’s pool (otherwise known as mom kicked around and Carter was along for the ride).

These are some of the moments that happened today I wished I could pause.

“God gave us the gift of life,” said French Enlightenment writer Voltaire, “it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”

It’s pretty funny to me when mom says it out loud. Yet I know it to be true. Sometimes we need to stop it. Sometimes we need to pause. Because it is when we do, when we slow down and take in everything happening around us, that we are reminded of the gift life truly is. In these moments we don’t just know joy. We live it.

 

Life is Love July 13, 2013

It wasn’t wrapped up in ribbons and bows. It didn’t cost any money to make. It all began very simply. Twenty-eight years ago today, one of my favorite gifts was presented to the world. Today my forever mom celebrates her 28th birthday, so today I celebrate her.

It’s not complicated. I know some people think it is, but I beg to differ. Whether we think of our own lives or the lives of those characters who make a difference in our lives, life as we know it is the best gift we could possibly be given. I realized it tonight as I basked in the glow of a very happy forever mom and dad feasting on something (that smelled ridiculously delicious) in the backyard. This is an infrequent event as the bugs often intrude on the enjoyment of such things, but tonight even the bugs cooperated. The bad ones stayed away and the good ones stayed close. Fireflies danced around them as they ate, and I was overcome with awe of the life in that moment.

It brought to mind the words of Indian philosopher Sai Baba who encouraged those he came into contact with to live life to the fullest in as many ways as possible. “Life is a song – sing it,” he once said. “Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.”Love You Mom

Life offers so many different choices, all beginning with our decision to live it to the fullest. It’s no secret I’m a believer in the contagion that is joy, so it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that gifts that keep on giving are my favorite. And I’m not talking jelly-of-the-month club gifts (though I would probably be open to a chew toy of the month club). I’m talking about the things we are grateful for each day. Gifts from within. Gifts from above.

These are my favorite gifts that keep on giving. So today as I reflect on the gift of life, I am grateful for the gift of my forever mom. It all started very simply twenty-eight years ago today. She may not have come into the world wrapped in pretty ribbons and bows, but she made up for that later in life. And some of the best things in life are free. To me her life is love, and I’m going to enjoy it as long as possible. I love you mom. Happy birthday.