Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Special Kind of Silver Lining March 7, 2015

Eight straight hours. That is how long dear baby Carter was awake today. It might not sound like much to the average person, but around here (to our beloved 14-month-old) it was an eternity. Because while there was some playtime and laughter, there was mostly crying and tears. Lots of tears.

It was the first time since he was little that my forever dad was around for a full day of it. More often than not, people ask “is he always like this?” when they encounter Carter’s smiley charming self. Today, it was his complete emotional breakdown that had dad asking mom “is he always like this?” Challenge

The answer is obviously no. Sure, he has his good days and bad days. We all do. But today was definitely want of the really bad no good terribly awful days that unfortunately do happen every once in a while.

I watched as my dear people went through all the usual emotional phases. Helplessness prevailed throughout, especially for dad, who is far less used to coping with an hour (or two) of crying at a time than mom and I. From my best guess, it was a battle between Carter and teething pain, and poor Carter was losing by a landslide.

Then it happened. After eight straight hours of primarily emotional turmoil (for all of us, not just Carter), he fell asleep. I watched as his swollen eyes closed just above what had developed throughout the day into a painfully crimson nose. He was on dad’s shoulder when it happened.

It was the first time since he was little that dad held him like that. I’d say seven or eight months have gone by since it last happened. But that is where he wanted to be, and none of us questioned it. So there we were, the four of us, in the soft glow of the afternoon sunlight, silent and watching as Carter finally gave in to the necessity of sleep.

Somehow everything that had happened in the last eight hours seemed inconsequential.

It took time. And lots of tears. And it’s nothing I would wish to happen to anyone again any time soon. But in its own unique way, it forced us all to be still. And be together. That is its own kind of special silver lining in my book.

 

 

 

A Little Hug February 9, 2015

People give us dogs a lot of credit. And I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t completely deserved, at least the majority of the time. We have a way of picking up on emotions of our forever people and reacting accordingly. Whether its the small nudge of our nose into the hands of someone who is crying, or a flying leap into the arms of someone who is contagiously happy, we have our ways of relating to our people.

So I suppose I shouldn’t necessarily have been surprised to see what I did today. We have an innate sense for these things, so I guess it makes sense little people would too. But that still couldn’t have prepared me for what I witnessed this afternoon. Love. Unplugged.

Something I don’t fully understand was wrong with my dear forever mom. She got a phone call from her baby doctor and she wasn’t the same afterward. She seemed sad. And scared. Devastated might be an even better word for it.

So I did what any dog would do in reaction to the situation. I wagged and nudged and snuggled my way into that crevice much too small on the chair next to her so she knew it would all be okay. I know in my heart it will be and wished so badly she could know it in her heart too. But all of my efforts were for naught. The tears kept coming.

That is, until my dear little baby Carter intervened. Otherwise known as the toddler tornado, he rarely takes a break to sit still for more than a couple minutes at a time. He’s always on the move. Not today. Not in this moment.

He toddled himself over to the chair we were on and did the thing he does when he wants mom to hold him where he yanks at her scarf and essentially tries to climb her using her clothes. The second she obliged, it was like magic. He put his little head in that special spot by her heart and kept it there for what felt like a really long time to all of us (though I think it may have only actually been about 20 minutes). Time paused and I knew in that moment mom believed it would be okay.

I may be able to read people really well, but I may never understand what was bothering mom today. In that precious bubble in time, I realized that’s beside the point. Because I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that my dear 13-month-old Carter knew mom needed a hug today. Not just any hug either. She needed a little hug only he could give. So he gave it with all his heart, at least until one of the toys in the corner caught his attention and he was off to the races again.

Today he gets the credit. And I’m okay with that.

 

A Season for Giving November 17, 2014

Some stories are meant to be told. I stumbled across one today in a conversation I overheard between mom and dad over dinner. Mom spoke with a woman today who volunteers at a local toy shop that is sourced by a toy drive around the holiday season.

The drive benefits struggling local families who may not be able to afford toys for their children for Christmas. The woman mom spoke with didn’t know what to expect when she volunteered last year, so what happened changed her heart forever.

There was a woman who was getting a couple of books for her children. When she brought them to the volunteer to check out (so to speak), she was crying. Upon initiation of conversation with this woman, the volunteer asked about her children and reassured her they would love the gifts she picked out for them. That’s when the tears really started rolling. Whether her children would like the books was not her concern.The New Look

“No, no, it’s not you,” the woman said. “I’m just so excited to have something to read to my children.”

I’m just so excited to have something to read to my children. Please understand, this is coming from your resident rescued doggie optimist. I’ve lived life as a have and a have not. I know not to take things for granted. But reading is implied. It seems obvious to me. That is until I heard this story.

What a fabulous reminder not only what the season is about, but what sincere giving is about. What living with purpose is about. What paying it forward is about.

Some stories are meant to be shared. What is yours?

 

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.

 

The Truth About The Worst Case September 2, 2014

It’s a little tough for me to wrap my optimistic doggie mind around. To be entirely honest, it’s hard for me to understand how my otherwise positive-thinking mom can even feel this way. Yet she does and I know she has her reasons.

Lately mom has been going through this negative thinking phase in her life. Everything (and I mean everything) is the worst case scenario. Truth be told, it’s tough to watch. Me

If something happens with Carter (he hits his head, cries differently, or basically does anything out of the ordinary), the computer, phone and tablet are instantly all in use searching to make sure he’s okay. She is way more tough than she should be on her post-knee reconstruction surgery and post-baby body. She had a bad dream (or I guess you could say nightmare) the other night about something terrible happening to me. She frequently talks about what emotional turmoil she would/will be in one day if/when my dear forever dad leaves for heaven because he is seven years older than her and because men die seven years sooner than most women that means she will be alone for at least 14 years.

It’s exhausting. Even for me, a doggie that has been through my fair share of things in life. But even thinking about that, I am forced to remember why she might be this way.

Five years ago, she lost a job she loved and her dad died suddenly within two weeks. Given the world of hardship and loss we live in, it might not sound like much. She knows and respects and understands people lose a lot more in one fell swoop all the time. Or they were never fortunate enough to have anything so special to lose in the first place. And, while I know her heart is with these people, I know (and see) the emotional aftermath on an almost daily basis.

It might be tough for me to wrap my optimistic doggie mind around, I understand she has her reasons almost as much as I see the progress she’s made. I know things were bothering her today. I know she had all kinds of negative thoughts running through her head. But she paused and found joy in life moments. She sat on the floor and had a (baby) talk with Carter when she got home from that place called work. Dinner was (for a change) not quite perfect, but she and dad got a good laugh about it regardless. And when the time came for our daily love fest tonight, she was 100% present for that too.

I know life can be tough. I know the worst can happen. But I guess what I learn from my dear forever mom is that even the worst case scenario isn’t really the worst. There are better things in the future. You just have to believe.

 

Light Will Guide Me Home June 7, 2014

I don’t know much about the people thing called money. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – when it comes to all things green stuff, I’m pretty clueless. Maybe it’s that I don’t see colors all that well. But I do know it can’t buy happiness. It doesn’t truly “fix” anything.

I thought of it as mom sang dear baby Carter his favorite lullaby today. It might sound silly, but he loves this song. I think it’s because mom does, but (the way I see it) that’s how it should be. It started because mom was overtired in those early days when Carter came home and couldn’t remember a typical lullaby. There are a whole bunch she could have sang to him, but she chose this one. And five months later, it still seems to do the trick.

“When you try your best, but you don’t succeed,” croons Coldplay’s Chris Martin in “Fix You,” “When you get what you want but not what you need. When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep, stuck in reverse. When the tears come streaming down your face. When you lose something you can’t replace. When you love someone but it goes to waste, could it be worse? Lights will guide you home and ignite your bones and I will try to fix you.”

It’s the same Coldplay favorite mom and dad danced to last the night they were married. And it had taken on a whole new meaning now, thanks (I think) primarily to the lack of sleep referenced early in the song. But also thanks to the tears.

ChallengeThey happen around here from time to time. And If I thought mom (or dad’s very occasional) tears ripped my dear little doggie heart out, I had no idea what to expect. Carter’s tears, especially in those early days, tore my little doggie heart to pieces. I wanted nothing more than to do exactly as that Coldplay song said. I wanted to fix it.

While his moments of sheer and complete terror to the point of the kind of tears of the early days have gotten few and far between, I often seek refuge in the dark cover of the basement when it happens. But today as mom sang those words, the words of an unexpectedly perfectly fitting lullaby, to dear little Carter, it came to me.

I don’t know much about money. While I know it doesn’t buy happiness, if I were to someday come across a large some of money for some silly reason I know exactly what I would spend it on. I would fix as many people as possible. I would use it for scholarships or grants or foundations or whatever would help make the world get out of reverse. I know money probably can’t actually fix anything, but I would do what I could.

And if money doesn’t work, I know light will. Joy. From the ground up, I will find a way to make the crying stop. Babies, adults and elderly alike. That is my mission. I don’t have to know much about money to know that.

 

He Looked At Me May 3, 2014

The emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune. This is one of four definitions on a sign I noticed in baby Carter’s room tonight. It seems an appropriate set of people words to reference today, after the day our family had. It’s downright silliness really.

The best part was (of course) that I was involved in mostly everything that happened. This is not always the case anymore, since all things Carter took over about four month ago. I don’t complain about such things as I have come to be quite fond of my alone time under the bed of my forever people. Day or night, it has become by safe haven from all things baby. I know it sounds terrible but I don’t care. Sometimes you just need some time away.

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This has certainly not been the case for my dear forever mom, who just can’t seem to get enough of the crying, spitting, pooping thing that is my dear little person. But I digress.

Because today it doesn’t matter. None of it does. None of the crying, spitting, pooping messiness that is babies matters. Because today we had that emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune. Today my distaste for “smart” phones went on holiday. For today we had joy. From the ground up, it was everywhere today. It was in this new-fangled hanging jumper thingy for Carter. It was in the car ride we all took to go for a walk. It was in the moment when Carter looked at me.

He really looked at me. And I saw so many things in his big brown eyes. I saw love and joy and hope and a future filled with all of these things. I might be biased, but I happen to think my dearest little person is pretty darn adorable.

Aside from any of the not-so-adorable things he does. And aside from the time I choose to spend away from any of it. He showed me a new side of him today. A side I knew was there, but had yet to see. He is a little person indeed. He may cry, but he also smiles. He may fuss, but he also jumps with glee. He may make stinky things (like spit and poop and burps and foofters), but…well, these things I don’t mind.

Not to mention how happy he makes my beloved forever people. The emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune. To be honest, we needed none of this today. Because today we had each other. From the ground up, that is all that mattered in these precious moments.

 

The Good Life April 24, 2014

I think it’s magic. To me there is really no other logical explanation. I’ve seen it happen in both my own life and the lives of others on occasions to frequent to count. Music. From the ground up, it touches the soul in a way words alone cannot.

I was reminded of this today when I heard a song by One Republic called “Good Life.” It’s all about the band’s real experiences travelling around the world and their ultimate realization of the good life. And it’s one of those songs that always gets my paws bouncing. It puts listeners into their own good life, just in listening to it. Listen to me

Which was kind of nice today. Because I’ll be honest. (Not that I’m not always honest, but you know what I mean). Today was not a good day. It was filled with tears and screams and everything negative one could possibly associate with time spent with a baby. Dear little Carter was in rare form today, and the implication was not a good one. Because when he’s that unhappy, mom is unhappy.

And here’s the thing – I know it is because dear little Carter is her baby and she wants him to be okay so it hurts her to see him so unhappy for so long. We are talking two hours of tears long. But she can’t. She can’t fix it. Sometimes there are just things you can’t fix. I think that’s what I learned today.

Because even I couldn’t fix the situation. This is not for lack of trying, mind you. Oh no. I pulled out the big guns. The more Carter screamed, the more mom cried, and the more I attempted to intervene. Attempted is the key word in the story, as I failed to evoke anything but frustration from my beloved forever mom.

Maybe it was because I was even more relentless with my positivity than Carter was with his screaming. It puzzled me at first, since it has always worked in the past. I did this thing where I paw at mom’s leg and sit and stare at her, and paw and stare, and paw and stare, and even jump at her – it did nothing but make matters worse. She just seemed more upset.

Then in happened. Magic. The song came on the radio and somehow the spirits lifted. Joy. From the ground up, it took the form of music today. And (even though it was something other than me causing it) I’m okay with that. Because today I was reminded of a pretty important lesson. The good life isn’t always the easy one. It’s the real one.

Oh, this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/onerepublic/good-life-lyrics/#Fdd7HQaTuoUmQbJr.99

 

Daily Dose of Nonsense April 10, 2014

Human communication never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes not saying anything at all says more than words. Other times words themselves bring conversation to a halt. Not to mention the nonverbal communication. And the emotions behind it all.

Me and My BuddySo I have to admit that it has been pretty interesting watching my little person develop a sense of language. Starting before he was born when he would kick my forever mom in the ribs. I think he was saying he wanted out. Then, for the first few months of his life, he has primarily cried to communicate all things.

That stopped today. Well, not exactly. The crying is still in the repertoire, but the vocabulary seems to be expanding. It’s been happening more frequently over a span of the last few weeks. But today I am sure of it. Dear baby Carter was, in his 3-month-old baby way, talking. To mom. He was looking her in the eyes and speaking. To which she would respond and he would respond and so on. Sure, mom’s words were coherent (and his were not), but that’s no matter.

Nonsense. From the ground up, that was my source of joy today. Which got me to thinking how nice it would be to find some sort of incoherent nonsense in all of our days. Some sort of absolute silliness that makes no sense at all other than that it is our daily dose of nonsense.

Suddenly I believed the words of Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein who said that “if people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.”

Because those precious moments made mom cry those same tears I used to lick off her face when she was pregnant. Tears of joy. My favorite kind. I much prefer those tears to the ones little Carter makes sometimes. I’ve even been known to hide under the bed sometimes when he cries.

So today when he chose to use what will one day become his primary source of communication, I too felt a small bit of relief. And pride. And joy. From the ground up, it didn’t matter that it was complete and utter nonsense. It was joy embodied in screeches and babbles. It was another example of the wonder of human communication. It was life.

For a sample of the new little conversationalist: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=573841715697&l=3886000390073174814

 

A Living Emotion April 4, 2014

Today I was confronted with a conundrum. Happiness is a living emotion, as a favorite author of mine Sarah Ban Breathnach would say. The optimist in me believes this as truth. Yet today I encountered another living emotion. Or six.

Sadness. Grief. Devastation. Complete and utter dismay. My arsenal of positivity was not strong enough to battle these things today. I failed and I’m not afraid to admit it. It has happened before, but I don’t think it’s ever been quite this bad. Maybe it’s because I can’t say I blame them.

Mom got bad news today. Really bad news. Epically bad news. That little slip on the ice about a month ago that the doctor hoped was just a sprain? Some test called an MRI showed otherwise. It’s a torn ACL. I don’t know much about these things other than that is what mom talked so much about with her other knee before surgery the last time.

And I was here. I saw how bad it was. Mom has (not-so-jokingly) said it was worse than recovery from labor. I don’t know what happened when they went to that hospital place three months ago, but I can’t imagine it was pretty. She was there for days, after all. The knee surgery was only an outpatient procedure. She was back home the same day. And she cried. All the time. I remember her crying out in pain in the middle of the night. It was bad. wpid-20140309_115645.jpg

So the thought of it happening again has taken our whole home by complete shock. She will be completely immobile for at least a week or two. Fortunately the damage is nothing near as bad as it was in the other knee, but the doctor still estimates the recovery time as about the same as last time. How on Earth will she do the thing that matters most to her in the whole world right now? How will she take care of our little person?

These are among what I would call the big picture questions my people were asking themselves tonight. That, and a question that broke my little doggie heart. How will we ever get ahead, dad asked to no one in particular. Mom cried at the thought. It’s like I’m on a hamster wheel, she said. Every time I think I’ll break free, something holds me back and I keep spinning in useless circles. I might not care much for hamsters (as it’s in my nature as a terrier not to), but the concept of their wheel is one that has always made me a little sad.

Today sadness was the emotion living in our house. Try as I might, I realized there are some things even my best tricks can’t fix. This is a pretty awful situation. These things happen. But life goes on. If I had a message for my beloved forever people on this day of days, that would be it. Life goes on. This too shall pass. It sucks. I won’t say it doesn’t. But life will keep plodding on, and I will be here to remind them of that each and every day.