Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Good Day March 8, 2015

It’s one thing when I think it. It’s something else entirely when it gets sound out loud by one of my people. Especially when there is nothing in particular that stands out to me as anything special.

That was today around here. It was a pretty standard Sunday in my forever home, except for the loss of an hour for daylight savings time. But even that didn’t seem to get anyone down. I held down the fort while the usual errands were run between dear baby Carter’s naps. It was a stark contrast to yesterday, when the poor little guy hardly napped and his overtired and unhappy self had a ripple effect all the way to my heart. Some laundry was done, and a bit of cleaning. All in all, it was a pretty routine day around here. Big Thinking

So it kind of took me by surprise when I heard my forever dad say it this afternoon. He and mom were relaxing together, which admittedly doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to, after the errands and laundry and cleaning were done. I was napping nearby, so I’m actually kind of surprised I even heard it all. But I’m so glad I did.

“It’s been a good day,” dad said simply.

And I suppose it had. Especially after the day we had yesterday with all the crying and gnashing of teeth (literally). That’s when I realized that sometimes I think it takes a day like yesterday, a day when nothing seems to go right, to remind us to appreciate days like today.

When nothing out of the ordinary happens. It’s just another day when everything goes as expected. A day when there is time (albeit brief) to pause to reflect on such things. A good day.

It’s one thing when I think it (and I think it all the time). It’s something else entirely when someone says it out loud. Just as simple as dad’s words are the words that form the reason for my acknowledgment of the simple things today.

As ancient Persian philosopher Omar Khayyam put it, “be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

 

 

A Heart Full February 27, 2015

There are now two cribs in my forever home. Two closets filled with tiny clothes. Two car seats. Two changing tables. And if I’m being honest, it’s all a bit overwhelming. But if there is something I would prefer not to hear again any time soon, it’s a set of words I find condescending and unnecessary.

“You’re definitely going to have your hands full,” people have been saying to my forever parents. It’s been uttered by friends and family. It’s been referenced by doctors and nurses. It’s even been joked about by complete strangers at the grocery store. And while 18 months (to the day) is not a big gap between little people by any means, it is certainly not one to be condescending about either. Thinking in the Nursery

Because while this may not have been in my parent’s play book for the ideal sibling spacing situation, it wasn’t up to them. From my perspective, it may not have been their plan, but it was certainly God’s plan. And that’s what matters.

Now that I’ve experienced infancy through early toddlerhood, I feel like I can say with some sense of (albeit doggie) authority that I think any sort of spacing would come with its fair share of pros and cons. In our case, I’m happy my people won’t be pushing the reset button after Carter is grown enough that they have forgotten how to survive through sleepless nights. Diapers and bottles and all things baby are all still fresh on their minds.

I know it won’t be easy. I’m just mentally prepared for a couple of pretty challenging years.

But beyond any of that, I heard mom say something today that put things in perspective for me. She was on the phone for work and I’m not sure who she was talking to. I cringed when I heard whoever it was say “you’re going to have your hands full.” Mom didn’t bat an eyelash.

“That’s probably true, but at least I’ll have a heart full too.”

It’s true there are now some doubles of baby things in the house. Soon it will probably look even more like a day care than the organized oasis of peace I once knew. But I’m okay with that. Because I know what mom said is true. These things are signs of what is to come. Right along with the extra crib and diapers and sleepless nights will be more love than any of us knew we even had in our hearts. And that right there is more than worth the extra trouble.

 

The Solid Foundation December 6, 2014

For some of us, I think it starts day one. From the moment we begin taking in the world around us, the foundation on which we will build the rest of our lives is built. Day by day, memory by memory, the foundation is built and layered upon as life goes on.

For others, I don’t think it’s that easy. I think there is a hurdle (or set of them) that manages to break away that foundation. I’m sure it happens at a variety of times in life. And perhaps it even happens more than once. Be it a negative life event, bad decision, or combination of the two, the result is a shattered core. A broken foundation upon which even a healthy heart could not stand. I’ve heard of this place referred to as rock bottom. Paws for Happy Thoughts

I don’t think it is a place I’ve ever visited. I feel like I would know it if I had. Sure, I had some awful times. One night in particular I remember not knowing for sure I would make it to the morning. But rock bottom? I don’t know that it ever happened to me. To my people? They too have been shaken a few times. Struggled through it. Rock bottom? Maybe. But I don’t think so.

But I know it’s happened to others. Others who weren’t fortunate or blessed enough to avoid encountering anything that completely and totally overwhelmingly devastating. Others who have had their entire world shaken to its core and can’t recognize their foundation, let alone begin rebuilding it.

I thought fondly for these people today as I read the words of British novelist J.K. Rowling, who said “rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

For me, I think it started day one. From the moment I entered the world, I was building my foundation the solid ground of optimism. But because of this I am definitely a fan of new beginnings. Second chances. Life’s opportunities to push the “reset” button. So to anyone out there who might be at that place called rock bottom, you are not alone. And life is not over. Only brightness lies in front of you. Just look up.

 

 

Like Mommy’s Perfume December 3, 2014

I thought it was just a dog thing. I don’t think it’s a secret that us canines do an awful lot of investigating with our noses. We rely on scent to figure out a lot of things people rely on sight for, and our noses are also capable of some pretty powerful things. Like when I knew something was up with mom before she even did when she first was pregnant with dear baby Carter. I have my nose to thank for that.

So the other day when it happened, it definitely caught my attention. While Carter is, for the most part, an angel, he too has his bad days. Days that come as a direct challenge for mom as she spends time trying to soothe him, feed him, get him to nap, etc.

It’s happened a little more frequently lately since recent estimates put his total teeth count up by at least four or five in the next few days. After a particularly taxing emotional day for mom and I (it’s never easy on either of us when there’s a lot of crying involved), dad was consoling an unusually crabby and irritable version of Carter when it happened.

Carter snuggled into dad in the special cuddly way he’s been doing more and more lately and I watched as dad sweetly smelled his little head as he snuggled him close. “Your head smells like mommy’s perfume,” he said, with an unspoken fondness for everything that meant.

It makes sense, of course, that his head would smell like my dear forever mom, since she spent the majority of the day comforting him in any and every way she knew how. So I watched her after she overheard dad say that. I saw the expression on her face as she processed the words. And it might be that she was tired from the long day she had, but I watched as a silent tear fell down her cheek.Buddies

I knew in that moment exactly what she was feeling. Not only because I sometimes think I know her better than I know myself, but because I’ve come to know some new things about my mom since Carter’s been around. That silent little tear was not a tear of sadness. Or exhaustion. Or frustration. It was a tear of joy.

Those simple words were a reminder that everything she did that day was not in vain. Though the crying carried on, she did everything she could to make it stop. And, in reality, she wouldn’t trade the time holding him to calm him down for the world. The time he cried into her chest was special in its own way, I know, because there will be a day when she longs to comfort him and won’t be able to. He will be all grown up and perhaps have children of his own to look after at that point.

That’s why even the most challenging days are worth living. It may take a little sniffing out, but there is always, always, a silver lining.

 

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.

 

A Defeated Day October 8, 2014

It’s one of those things I sometimes wish didn’t happen. At least to me, or anyone close to me. But alas, life goes on and these things do happen. I’ve said before I do believe momma said there would be days like this. Days when, sometimes for no reason at all, everything goes wrong. The proverbial thunderstorm clouds in and makes its presence known in every facet of one’s daily existence. I’ve also said I believe these days happen for a reason.

Life's Big QuestionsI’m not so sure today was one of those days. I know it might come as a surprise for your resident doggie optimist to admit defeat, but I think today is a day to give in to the negativity. To go to bed because soon it will be tomorrow.

I can’t explain it. The last few days, something has been up with my forever people. Mom hasn’t been feeling well, which makes dad worried and tense. Meanwhile, dear baby Carter is his babbling joyful self, but even his smiles couldn’t break the sense of defeat around here today. I don’t think there is anything in particular going on, but rather the sum of the parts that brought us down.

But is my undying optimism in a way a cloak to hide behind? Is the silver lining really found in any situation? Today made me contemplate these questions, as I pondered my whole philosophy on life.

Because it truly is one of those things I sometimes wish didn’t happen. Certainly not to anyone close to me, if possible. But alas, these days do happen and sometimes I don’t think they can be salvaged. I think I made peace with that today. I think today I confronted the truth that sometimes things really are tough. Situations are challenging. Days are terrible, sometimes for no particular reason at all. And that’s okay.

I think there is strength in admitting that we will not win every battle, nor face every day with a smile on our face. It’s liberating almost. Except that I can’t let it go there. (Don’t you know me at all?) Even though the day itself doesn’t have a happy ending (and that is not the end of the world), tomorrow is a new beginning. A fresh start. A new day. I’m okay with that.

 

When It Rains March 17, 2014

It started at 1:23 a.m. That is when baby Carter started crying (all right, more like screaming), almost an hour an a half before he usually wakes up hungry this morning. So mom and dad got up, fed him, and went back to bed. Mom wasn’t sleeping very well to begin with, so I snuggled my best. I’m not sure it mattered.

Then at 5:36 a.m. the phone calls and text messages started. My dear grandma, who was all set to babysit baby Carter on mom’s first day back to work, couldn’t come. She broke a tooth eating breakfast of all things, and needed to get in to see a dentist as soon as possible. Thank goodness for my aunt Morgan, who swooped in to save the day.

Though I’m not entirely sure she saved much other than Carter and I, since it was definitely one of those days for mom. The kind that never ends even though you wish you could just go to bed and have it be tomorrow. The polar opposite of the kind of days you savor. The kind that when it rains it pours. Because when she got back to work, she was greeted by far more than she expected. Far more than she would be capable of catching up on in a day (let alone a month or two). For some, this would be an easy enough mountain to climb. Slow and steady. For mom, who cares so very deeply for doing the right thing even if it hurts, it was like a punch to the stomach.

I know as well as anyone she hates to let people down, and that is exactly what she felt like from the moment she got to back to work. She was letting Carter (and me) down because she left. She was letting her clients down because she couldn’t take care of them all at once. Ultimately, she let herself down because of letting all of this get to her.

Meanwhile, I was home monitoring the Carter situation and he was not happy. It started again yesterday – after days (or maybe weeks?) of fairly decent behavior, he started crying inexplicably. All the time. Morgan rocked him and sang to him and fed him and changed him and dressed him and nothing seemed to work. If I didn’t know better, I would say he and mom are on some sort of level emotional playing field. The way she has been crying the last couple of days mirrors his cries in a way I can’t think is a coincidence.

But it ended at 9:08 p.m. Baby Carter finally fell asleep. And mom and dad breathed a collective sigh of relief. Because let’s be honest. Sometimes there are days like this. Days with very little (if any) silver lining. Days that just plain run us down. When it rains it pours. But at least I know one thing for sure. That rainbow always follows the storm.

 

My Universe March 9, 2014

My UniverseIt’s happened to me a few times. Like when I was returned to the humane society the first time. Or when I met Tiger and his puppies. Most recently, it happened when my forever people brought baby Carter  home. Each of these situations brought me face to face with the reality that I am indeed not the center of the universe. Sad, but true. Yet I’ve also come to understand this is part of growing up. Part of becoming a man. It’s something that separates the puppies from the dogs.

And it’s happened again. I knew it before all the tears. Right now mom is the center of my universe. I’d been keeping somewhat of a distance since baby Carter came home, instead spending extra cuddle time with dad. But she needs me now. I haven’t left her side since she slipped on the ice yesterday. Because even though dad (and various friends who have called to check up on her) are saying it’s going to be okay, she doesn’t seem so sure.

There’s nothing I can do about that, but I can do what I do best. I can stay by her side. I can stay positive, like American comedian Ellen DeGeneres suggests.

“It’s our challenges and obstacles that give us layers of depth and make us interesting,” she said. “Are they fun when they happen? No. But they are what makes us unique.”

It’s not an easy thing for a canine like myself to admit, regardless of how many times it has happened to me. But today as I cuddled into mom’s elevated leg while she cried, I was overcome by the knowledge that it’s okay not being the center of the universe. It’s all part of growing up to be a unique individual. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s all part of living. Because when you fall down, it’s the world around you that helps you get back up.

Mom asked that I pass along her gratitude for all of the concerned comments.

She appreciates your words and thoughtfulness more than you know.

 

Seeking Selflessness February 15, 2014

Her name was Olivia. And she was the most beautiful spaniel mix I’d ever seen. Granted, I only saw her on a computer screen and didn’t actually meet her in person. But mom did and she tells me she was pretty swell. At the tender age of two months old, she was a black and brown bundle of puppyhood joy. And she almost became part of my forever family today.

My dear aunt Morgan has been searching for her first fur baby of her own for more than a year. She has been through a lot on her search, from moments of heartbreak to moments of hope. She has fallen in love with dachshunds and terriers and bearded collies of all ages and sizes. She has considered buying a purebred of some kind, but would really prefer to rescue.

And today she thought for sure she had finally found her match. Olivia looked into her eyes and she just knew. That is, until she didn’t. Mom was there with her to help make this big decision and she tells me they were fetching the adoption paperwork when my dear aunt Morgan did a completely selfless thing. She changed her mind.

Ultimately she couldn’t live with knowing her challenging work schedule that (every now and then) keeps her away from home for 12 hours at a time would simply be too long to leave poor little Olivia alone. I know it was tough for her to leave Olivia’s big brown eyes behind. But that’s not where the story ends for her. She was indeed adopted today by a family who was waiting anxiously for Morgan to make a decision. And I bet she will be happy there.

Because rescue, from the ground up, is the real deal. I am a living breathing example of a rescue success story, and even mine wasn’t perfect. That’s the thing about situations like this. Life in itself is a big deal. It brings us twists and turns and ups and downs. It challenges us. It keeps us on our paws. And when it comes to making big decisions, it frankly sucks sometimes.

Her name was Olivia and she was a game changer. She didn’t join our forever family today but she taught us all a lesson in selflessness and patience. I’ll be the first to admit patience is not something I’m great at. That’s why I know Morgan will find her perfect match soon. Because today she made another tough decision. Today she confirmed she will not settle. And I’m proud of her.

 

Living in A Moment January 11, 2014

I’m not complaining. I want to be clear about that. But I’m not going to lie. While I am overwhelmed with joy for the major life change my people have embarked upon, it kind of frightens me a little. All right, I’ll be honest. It frightens me a lot.

ChallengeI knew it would happen eventually, but I didn’t expect it to happen this fast. Mom and dad have thrown caution to the wind. Forget the baby books. Put aside the message boards. Just as I knew would happen, Carter is writing a book of his own. And I can’t say my people seem to happy with the outcome.

When mom was pregnant, dad used to joke that he wished she could give birth to a toddler. Though it would be physically impossible, it seemed appealing then to be able to fast forward through the “tough” newborn stuff and get right to the talking, walking trouble that comes with little people who are about two people years old. That way at least they can tell us what they need, he said.

Meanwhile, any and every caring friend and family member concurs. Much of the advice and suggestions align with each other, but one has stood out to me. This too shall pass, but cherish these moments. He will only be little like this for a short time. They grow up so fast.

If dogs could talk I would echo these words. It hasn’t been easy, but as American hockey coach Herb Brooks suggested moments of challenge represent opportunities for success. “Great moments are born from great opportunities,” he said. Because let’s face it. Fast forward is no way to live.