Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Painted Baby Blue February 23, 2014

I thought we were past all of this. The exhaustion. The disoriented distracted state of mind. The emotional instability. But mom has seemed especially disheveled the last couple of days and I can’t put my paw on why. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love dear baby Carter. That simply can’t be the case as she tells him she loves him even more than she tells me. Something isn’t right.

Unbeknownst to my people I have done my own research on these things. Apparently it’s normal for new (especially first-time) moms to experience something called the baby blues. (It’s a good thing blue is one of the colors I can see). Usually it happens early on, within the first couple of days, and wears off over time. Feeling Blue?

That’s why I’m not completely convinced that’s what’s wrong. (But I’m ready with all kinds of love if it is). That, and the fact that it seemed at least mostly cured by something pretty silly today. I will never understand why people paint their nails. It’s enough of a rigamarole for me when I get mine trimmed. Mom frequently takes it quite a few steps farther when she gets her fingers and toes painted, blue of all colors. That’s what she did today.

She left dad and I alone with Carter (a fairly new and unfamiliar experience) and came back with a new color about her. I got the impression it wasn’t so much about where she went as it was that she went at all. It doesn’t mean she loves us any less. It doesn’t mean she wants to return Carter to the magical place he came from. She just needed a little time away to regroup.

I don’t think we can call this the baby blues. Because I think if we are all honest with ourselves, we all need that every now and then. A little time away to regroup. Whether it’s a five-minute walk around the office or a week away in a foreign place, experience demonstrates it does the body good. It doesn’t mean we love our lives any less. It just means we are human (or canine in my case). And, as Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle suggests, it fuels our drive to persevere.

“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements and impossibilities: It is this that in all things distinguishes a strong soul from the weak.”

 

The Color Blue December 2, 2013

There is usually crying. And some yelling. And some choice words. It’s not a pleasant thing to witness, and yet I am at the mercy of those engaged it the middle of it all. I have no choice but to stand by and observe. Arguments.

They doesn’t happen often in the Schmidt home, but when they do they definitely fall into a category of conversations I would prefer to never have heard. Yet I remain by both mom and dad (a tricky place to be in such situations), steadfast and true. I love them both with equal halves of my heart and never take sides.Listen Here

Except for once. I remember because it was a dreary early winter day like today a few years ago. The grey mood of the sky was directly reflective of the emotional context of my forever family. Mom had been blue for a while. And not blue like the color. She was sad. I think I knew it before dad because us canines have a way of sensing these things. She was tired a lot. She wasn’t as responsive to my attempts to engage in chase or pickle in the middle. It seems that place called work was among the things that had worn her down into a shell-like version of herself.

So I sided with dad the day he confronted her about it. I hated seeing her that way, and she needed to hear everything he had to say. It wasn’t comfortable for any of us, yet I know that was a day we will not soon forget. It will stick with us for all of the right reasons and none of the wrong. And it wasn’t fun.

Crying, yelling and choice words were among the key players. I remember wishing I could be somewhere (anywhere) else but in that room. But then I remember the color blue mom was then and see how happy she is now and I realize how important those conversations can be.

“The character of a man is known from his conversations,” suggested Ancient Greek dramatist Menander. In that case, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that sometimes the toughest conversations are the most important ones to have. They show love, not hate. They show concern, not contempt. And ultimately they lead to joy, even if it doesn’t seem that way in the moment.

 

A Dog’s Tale May 6, 2013

I hold my breath when Aaron Rodgers throws a football down the field because I want to be sure someone catches it. I bark at the bass that Babe Winkelman and Bill Dance reel in on the moving picture window in the living room. I physically recoil when my dad takes off his leather belt or swings a baseball bat. Oh, and some of you already know this, but I have a habit of rolling myself all over clothes (clean or dirty) left anywhere within my reach.

Comedic or otherwise, there you have it. These are some of the private (but honest) truths of my life. I think a lot of people think us canines must be the best secret keepers because of the stories we are entrusted with, but I’ve got another honest truth to share with you. Dogs don’t really keep secrets. We wear our emotions on our tail. You can see it in our eyes. That’s the thing about unconditional love – it speaks a universal language directly from our hearts to yours.

That’s one of a few reasons why the cThis Face Doesn't Lieonfusion my parents have had about the main bathroom in my forever home is completely baffling to me. When they brought me here, the walls were blue. Now they are white. It sounds simple enough, but this is not a change that came easily.

Some turn to television for entertainment, but I need not look further than my forever family. The bathroom “conversation” happened about a year ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. Mom and dad were talking about making changes around the house, and mom mentioned changing the color of the walls in the main bathroom. Dad questioned this, as it was their joint decision to choose the light blue color that used to adorn the walls. Mom insisted that perhaps they made the decision in haste and indeed a lighter color might be a better fit in the small room. Dad agreed. And that’s when the reality happened.

They both admitted they had hated the color of the walls for two years (two years!) and had been withholding the truth from one another in protection of the other’s feelings. I couldn’t believe my little doggie ears. Not only did they agree a change was needed, but they admitted to essentially lying to each other (for two years!) about allegedly liking this mutual decision.

It is a baffling and foreign concept to me, as a dog’s tale (er, I mean tail) never lies. While the majority of people might assume us canines to be the best secret keepers, I can’t say that’s accurate. I shared my “secrets” with the world tonight, and I didn’t stop there. I shared the “secrets” of my people too. Let’s face it, they probably won’t be too happy with me when they see I’ve mentioned my habit of rolling around in their clothes again. (I would challenge that isn’t much of a secret because they inevitably take a piece of me with them via the fur trail I leave on the clothes, but I digress.)

“To one who waits, all things reveal themselves,” English poet Coventry Patmore tells us, “so long as you have the courage not to deny in the darkness what you have seen in the light.”

It wasn’t an easy journey, but the bathroom walls that were blue are now white, the color of purity. The color of a fresh start. Truth be told, I can’t say I notice that much a difference.

But what do I know? I hold my breath when Aaron Rodgers throws a football because I believe that will help Donald Driver catch it and score a touchdown. The behavior is part of who I am and I refuse to hide myself from reality. I understand it as part of my authenticity, part of what makes me who I am. Dogs don’t really keep secrets. You can see it in our eyes, and even more so in our tails. Besides, experience has taught me these so-called secrets have a way of surfacing on their own when you least expect it. Take it from me and my truthful tail.

 

If I Were a Painter April 6, 2013

Every person I encounter adds an inexplicable brush of color to my own personal sketchbook of life. I’ve always been better with words than with art, but I aspire to be better at all things I love. “Today you might want to cast your net for inspiration and consider forming a circle of kindred spirits,” Sarah Ban Breathanch writes in Simple Abundance.

If I Were A PainterHow lucky I am have such a wide variety of colorful characters in the blogosphere to inspire me on a daily basis. I find my inspiration in the blogs around me that encourage a sense of exploration and adventure.

“Since I was a wee baby boat cat I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited aboard lots,” wrote Bailey Boat cat this morning. “I love exploring!”

Later in the day, I was surprised to see a message of hope from the Happy Hugger, who quoted a powerful one-liner about learning from mistakes but not forgetting what led you to that point.

Whether I’m out exploring, or learning from my mistakes, it’s a good day to be a painter by spirit. My little doggie eyes and mind may only see a few colors in the spectrum but even I can see the need for color in a day like today. Color isn’t always an easy thing to see in an otherwise grey world, especially when you’re eyes are designed only for seeing a select few colors in the spectrum.

However I would argue that (like with anything) if your sight is limited, you are (at the very least) granted the gift of gratitude for what you have rather then dwelling on what you don’t. You are given a paintbrush of the mind to make your own backdrop for what you believe. If I were a painter, I would take a page from the sketchbook and songbook of singer-songwriter Norah Jones, who would paint her reverie in appreciation of time with her loved ones.

Tonight, my messages of luck, exploration and learning come together in the one and only line in the blog from a diplomatic yet artistic canine soul who quotes Walter Miller’s thought that “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body, temporarily.” With my body I choose to appreciate color whenever I’m afforded the chance to do so. And if, for some reason, color isn’t part of my landscape, I paint it myself.

 

Hide and Seek No More February 28, 2013

Everything around me was gray. I was standing on a platform that appeared to be floating and not connected in anyway to the walls around me. It was flying down and I was struggling to keep my balance. “Newbie,” I heard someone mumble nearby. I didn’t look around because that would have made me lose my focus. Instead I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and…

my first thought upon waking this morning was I was happy to be alive. Shortly after that, my senses returned and I realized I was really hungry and really had to go outside. But when I opened my eyes and saw I wasn’t on that platform surrounded in gray plunging to what seemed like inevitable death, I knew I’d made it. I was blessed with another day filled with naps, treats, playtime and love. How lucky I am.

I know it isn’t this way for everyone. I will admit, it isn’t even always that way for me. It is a conscious choice we make each day to see it as a fresh canvas ready and waiting for our uniquely personal brushstrokes. And some days are not masterpieces. Or they don’t seem like it at the time at least. Even the works of Pablo Picasso confused (and, in some cases, continue to confuse) its viewers at first. “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls,” Picasso said. That’s not so confusing.

So today I take a page from Picasso’s sketchbook and paint myself a portrait of gratitude. By doing so, I breathe life into gratitude, just as Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests we take time to do in Simple Abundance. Two months ago, I reflected on Breathnach’s concept of a gratitude journal as a necessary part of the Simple Abundance experience in Hope in Gratitude.

“If you want to continue on this journey with me, the gratitude journal is not an option,” Breathnach scolds. “Why? Because you simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life.” One month ago, I challenged myself to write my own eulogy, forcing me to reflect on the value of life. Since then, I have taken Breathnach’s concept one tiny paw step further and made it a point not to separate my gratitude journal from my other musings, as a way to trick myself into being more grateful. And I would argue that my little trick with my mind is working. I’m not the same dog I was two months ago.Thankful to be Alive

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words,” American president John F. Kennedy once said, “but to live by them.”

That is why I want to share my perspective with the world. It’s kind of like American comedian Jim Carrey said “I wake up some mornings…and I go, ‘remember how good this is because you can lose it.” I’m done playing hide and seek with life.

Instead when I wake I say here I am world, happy and alive.