Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Story About Some Shoes March 18, 2015

For me it’s things like my increasing supply of treats from dear baby Carter. And the constant supply of food and water in my bowls. And a forever family that loves me. Sometimes I honestly can’t even picture life without these things. Yet I do also recognize that these things that feel like givens in my life are not necessarily that.

Today I scored an exceptional amount of treats. From strawberries to blueberries to string cheese bits and goldfish crackers, I had it all. I do appreciate how blessed I am to have a little person that loves me enough to share his food with me. Yet I do think it is one of a few things in life I have come to take for granted. Feeling the Love

So when I happened to overhear a story about shoes today, I felt a tug at my heart strings. Mom was talking with someone about shoes, which seemed like something of an odd topic to me at first. Sure, mom likes shoes as much as the next person, but this sounded different.

Apparently the person she was talking to is collecting shoes. And not like a New Yorker would collect Jimmy Choos. She is collecting them for people who don’t have any shoes. She is in the process of organizing a local shoe drive to collect shoes to donate to people who don’t have shoes in Ecuador. People who don’t have shoes in Ecuador. It took me a bit to process that.

Shoes. From the ground up, I’ve never had much use for the things myself. I know my people each have their fair share of shoes. Even dear baby Carter has started wearing shoes in recent months due to his increased range of activity. To think of them leaving the house without shoes on is such a foreign concept to me.

Yet apparently there are people out there who simply don’t have shoes. Period. To them it’s not a matter of whether pumps or flats work better with an outfit. Or if the black shoes really need to match the black belt.

It made me stop and think twice as I accepted Carter’s strawberries before bedtime tonight. And as I feasted on my food and water. And as I snuggled up to my dear forever people as they watched some television together. There is so much in my life I could so easily take for granted. Instead I was reminded today to pause and appreciate life’s simple little things.

 

Partners in Crime March 16, 2015

It’s starting to feel a little more real every day. At first the whole idea of going back to baby square one with baby number two seemed so unreal to me. It was not that unlike how I felt about dear baby Carter. But I realized today how strange it is that somehow that feels like so long ago and like it was yesterday at the same time. I’m sure someday it will feel that way with the new baby too.

That day is not today. Today I was outside enjoying another warmish spring morning when it occurred to me. Summer is going to be a lot different this year. There’s only somewhere around 13 weeks left until the baby is going to come home. And I don’t think I’m ready. A Boy and His Dog

Carter and I have come to such a comfortable place. I protect him and love him and gladly accept his snack cup scraps throughout the day. We’ve come so far from the days of his regular and piercing newborn cries and the fur pulling and tail yanking. I sometimes can’t believe we’re going to have to start all of that business all over again.

I don’t know if it was the warmth of the sunshine or just that I slept well last night, but I realized that is exactly what makes it different this time around. This time, I have a partner in crime who sees things at my level. This time I have Carter. I don’t think he has any idea what’s in store, but that’s okay. Because I do. And between the two of us, we will figure it out.

I don’t deny that I was lonely and a little aloof for those first few months Carter was home. I think I honestly was a little bit depressed about no longer being the center of attention for my dear forever parents. They had their hands full – I get that. And they never stopped loving me – I know that, too.

The countdown is getting real these days. If I didn’t know better, that would scare me. But it doesn’t. Because this time I’m ready. Not just because I kind of have an idea of what to expect, but because I know I have a partner in crime who will keep me company.

“The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau.

This time he’s the one that doesn’t know what to expect. So I will do what doggies do best. I will simply be his friend.

 

 

The Diaper Bag Lady March 15, 2015

I’m just glad I wasn’t there to see it happen. Well, that, and for how the story ended. Fortunately, I was able to skip to the last chapter without reading the rest of the book. Usually that’s not how I like to do things, but in this case it was a blessing.

Mom lost something today. Something incredibly important to her. It’s probably going to sound pretty silly, but that’s not always the worst thing. Apparently she left her diaper bag in the cart at Target. She loaded the bags into the car, and got dear baby Carter all settled and somehow forgot to add the diaper bag to the list of things to put in the car before driving away. It only took about 10 minutes for her to realize it, but a lot could happen in that amount of time. Mom and Wiley

So when the people at Target recognized her (from security cameras I guess) as “the diaper bag lady” upon her return, she cried. Not just a tear or two either. We’re talking full on bawl baby crying. They had the bag. All was well.

Hearing the story reminded me to pause and be grateful. Not just for the obvious things in life, but for the good people you may only encounter once. Especially as mom navigates this thing called pregnancy for a second time, she needs all the help she can get. And as hard as I may try, it can’t all come from me.

So the people that saw mom forget the diaper bag in the cart and did the right thing: thank you. I know she has a lot on her mind.

To the stranger who offered to pick up Carter’s teether at the grocery store: thank you. I know she’s starting to have a harder time bending over these days.

To dad, who woke up early with Carter today so mom could sleep in: thank you. I know sleep eludes her lately.

To a teething terror of a toddler I know and love as Carter, who took two solid naps yesterday: thank you. That hasn’t been happening lately, and your timing was nice since it allowed mom and dad a little time together.

From what I can tell, pregnancy isn’t an easy ordeal. And mom likes to pretend she’s always got it all together. But I know she needs help sometimes, and it’s not always something I can do. So thank you to the good people out there. You know who you are.

 

The Best Kind of Medicine March 14, 2015

I find it happens in the most curious of ways. Or sometimes for no good reason at all. Laughter. From the ground up, it’s true what the imperviously mysterious “they” say about it being a contagion. At least that’s what I have witnessed around my forever home.

Lately, a formerly thoughtful giggler known as dear baby Carter has evolved into a much more boisterous and free-spirited fountain of laughs. I know just what I can do to get him going. For the most part, so do mom and dad. Even he seems to know that if he runs a certain path through our home or has a conversation with a sock he carefully fixed onto his hand, it will bring joy to his heart.Good News, All!

Yet it seems each new day something new brings out the gleeful sound. Today it was mom’s foot. She got him in his tummy with her toes by mistake, and that set of a long and fulfilling session of laughs that even I got involved with.

It made me realize how important it is to be open minded about joy. As he giggled with delight in a game of chase, I found myself wondering what the world would be like if everyone could find something new to giggle about each day. I personally laugh (and smile) with my tail, so I’m not sure what good that does for me.

But later this afternoon, I overheard mom talking with dad about the physical and mental health benefits to laughter, like how a minute or two of laughter can relieve tension and stress in the body for up to 45 minutes. It boosts the immune system, releases what mom called a “happy hormone,” and protects the heart. Sounds like a win-win to me.

So today I find myself feeling so grateful for my silly little person and all the laughter he brings into my forever home. Even if it does happen in the most curious of ways, or sometimes for no good reason at all. Laughter. From the ground up, it’s the best kind of medicine around.

 

 

To Feel It In My Heart March 13, 2015

First the windows got opened to let in the fresh air. Then there was a bustling around the house I’ve come to recognize means one (very exciting) thing. Shoes are gathered and the diaper bag is packed to the brim and I know what’s coming next. Adventure. From the ground up, it’s one of my most favorite things.

Except when I get left behind. Disappointment filled my heart this afternoon as adventure incarnate left with mom and dear baby Carter as I stayed behind. Dogs are apparently not allowed wherever they were going, which made my heart sad. The Great Outdoors

So I went to my spot in the window and did my best to stay positive as I soaked up the sunshine and felt a warm breeze run through my fur. I watched as a group of children from a nearby school literally skipped their way down the street. I saw a few people running. The mailman stopped by as he usually does in the afternoon.

I must have dozed off briefly because the next thing I knew, I heard the familiar car engine. The garage door opened. From the open windows I could hear the final notes of a familiar song about a rainbow. The car doors shut. The garage door went down. And in they came.

Adventure. From the ground up, it apparently only lasted just about an hour today. And at first I was heartbroken because it didn’t involve me. I found myself sulking throughout the time they were gone. When they got back, the sight of them together turned my heart’s frown upside down.

It doesn’t matter where they went or for how long. The fresh air and sunshine did them so much good, I could see joy radiating from them both from the inside out. They were smiling and laughing together, and I got an epic squeal and squeeze combination from Carter almost immediately upon their reentry into our forever home.

It made me think of the words of American pilot Amelia Earhart, who said “adventure is worthwhile in itself.” Sure, it would have been nice to be along for the ride. But seeing them come home like that, so happy, so full of life, I didn’t have to experience the adventure to feel it in my heart.

 

The Possibilities of Existence March 12, 2015

It was exciting. And interesting. And a little terrifying. I was sure it wouldn’t last long. When you’re talking about the attention span of a toddler, nothing ever does. Yet as I took dear baby Carter on an exploration tour of my backyard paradise today, I could tell he was as into it as I was.

From our ground-up perspective, the gradual incline is like a mountain, the decline like a valley. There are trees and pinecones and a garden to explore. So that’s what we did. Together we walked all over the yard, and he talked his talk (in a language neither my forever parents nor I can translate) and I listened. He showed me pinecones that I pretended were a new toy. And I watched as he took it all in. Backyard Fun

It was his first time wandering the backyard on his own two feet, since there was already snow on the ground when he first started walking. And it was fun.

It reminded me of the dreams I had all those months ago of us running and playing together in that yard. There wasn’t much running (the grass is still pretty brown and muddy) and it’s still to early to expect him to understand the game of fetch, but we’ll get there.

Not only that, but as I watched him wander and touch and feel and babble to himself, I realized this is just the beginning. There is a very good reason toddlers don’t pay attention to one thing for very long. Everything is new. Everything is different. Everything is exciting.

Watching it all unfold filled my heart with joy for these reasons. Because yes, it was a little bit terrifying thinking of him falling or trying to eat something he shouldn’t. But it was also pretty neat to think of this as just the beginning.

“That is the exploration that awaits you!” the late, great Leonard Nimoy suggested. “Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.”

There is so much out there in the world for my dear baby Carter to see and touch and explore. Sure, there will be bumps and bruises along the way, but that is all part of the journey, all part of the existence, I’m so honored to bear witness to.

 

 

Sweet Emotion March 11, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:25 pm
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It can literally happen in the blink of an eye. It certainly did today, countless times. In one moment, a joyous and bubbly giggle fills the air of my forever home. In the next, one of the world’s happiest sounds is replaced by a soul-crushing scream of anguish.

I do find it happening a bit more frequently lately, with all the teething going on around here. I think that’s what led to the roller coaster of emotions I witnessed today, with the tears and the giggles somehow creating a symphony of emotional reality. Teething is not our friend

As dear baby Carter approached bed time, a time when he should have been pretty tired after not napping at all today, he exuded energy. And as I watched him run through the house with his bare legs hanging out (because his pants had already gotten changed twice, and it was warm enough for such silliness again today), squealing with joy, I couldn’t help it. Somehow that moment seemed to erase all the other not so happy ones scattered randomly throughout the day from my mind.

I realized, as the squeals evolved into more of a squeal/laugh combination, that is the magic of this emotional dichotomy. We all experience it in our daily life, but time has a way of training us to keep it inside. Time has yet to do that to Carter, who literally wears his heart on his (usually blueberry-stained) sleeve. So he laughs and cries and questions and thinks and laughs and cries some more (all in the span of 30 seconds) in a very public way.

Google SearchingThough it pains me to experience sometimes, I’m thankful to frequently bear witness to the emotional roller coaster ride of toddlerhood. Because it can literally happen in the blink of an eye. Laughter can become tears that quickly.

But, even better, tears can become laughter that quickly. And that’s life. Things have a way of happening that can sometimes take us by surprise. They can rock the emotional boat enough to completely change the tide. Taking control of the boat and immediately turning it back the right way? That’s a life worth living.

 

A Man’s Best Medicine March 10, 2015

It’s not the first time it’s happened, but it might be the most memorable time to date.

“Today this little guy doesn’t have many big thoughts. Instead I have gratitude.”

Two years ago (almost to the day), I spoke these words in reference to a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It was 40 degrees, and I was cold, but it was the first time my dear forever mom and I got outside for a decent walk since before her knee surgery. Recovery from that surgery was an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, so it was especially meaningful for us to hit the road again that day. A beautiful day

Today it happened again. Recovery wasn’t an issue this time, unless you count the emotional recovery from the winter doldrums we Wisconsinites all experienced for the last several months.

Instead it was simply joy. From the ground up, that is what filled my heart when dad (of all people) said the magic words. “Do you want to go for a walk?” I’m never sure why he and mom ask me such silly questions when they already know the answer.

Off we went, dear baby Carter and mom and dad and I, together, on a quick jaunt through the neighborhood. It was almost 60 degrees this time, and (while I love my alone time with mom) it was nice to be with everyone. Carter babbled in a language only he (and sometimes mom) understands the entire way. And mom and dad laughed, happy to be breathing in the fresh spring air.

Ancient Greek physician and philosopher Hippocrates took it so far as to suggest that “walking is man’s best medicine.” Today I soaked up the medicine, just as I did two years ago. And in doing so, I must have brought my mental motion to a halt because all I could think was how happy I was to be on the road again. Gratitude.

From the ground up, today I find myself thankful. Thankful for the weather. And the sunshine. And the way it warms hearts and minds. But, even more so, thankful for the people that bring it all to life.

 

To Spring Forward March 9, 2015

It’s not just the birds. They’re great and all, and it’s good to have them back. But something happened today that brought a lasting smile to my heart. I know it’s going to sound pretty silly, and I don’t care.

I saw green grass. Love in Truth, Truth in Love

Well, it is more brownish green than green. And it’s only in patches. None of that matters to me. Because the windows in my forever home were all open today to let in the fresh spring-like air. The grass is taking back its presence from the snow that accumulated over the frigid winter months. I say this cautiously, knowing from experience that snow and cold temperatures are still possible in March. (I live in Wisconsin, after all).

All of that said, I’m going to say it.

Spring is here! From the ground up, I felt it in my heart today. I’m not one to encourage wishing any amount of time away. I feel the need to embrace the beauty in each day, even when its gloomy and cold and the attitude of people seems to follow. That’s the thing, though. The attitude of people seems to follow.

I watched from my perch in the windowsill today as passersby had a definite bounce to their step. Not only were they walking, running or frolicking by in the first place (a rare sight through winter until now), but their was an air of joy in their motion.

Little girls stomped gleefully in the puddles where snow used to be. Moms jogged blissfully with their baby carriages. My dog friend Izzy and I barked hello at each other during our longer-than-usual time outside. Joy. From the ground up, it joined the sunlight that breathed new life into the fresh air today.

It’s more than the green grass. And the birds singing. And the people in the street. The renewal, and everything that comes with it, is a welcomed thing. It doesn’t mean there weren’t good things to winter. I love my cozy time with my forever family and Christmas and even the snow that is slowly melting away as much as the next dog. But the time has come to renew. To spring forward. And I can’t wait.

 

 

 

 

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.”