Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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.

 

The Proverbial Dog House July 28, 2014

There really is no excuse for what happened this morning. One minute I was happily exploring my the subconscious otherwise known as my personal dreamland (which today was filled with peanut butter rolled in bacon). The next minute, my tail was being pulled HARD, effectively bringing my delicious dreamy feast to a startling end. And what happened next is something I can’t take back.

I gave dear baby Carter three tries to back away from the tail. One small snarl, followed by a slightly louder and more fierce snarl, followed by the angry nip. It all happened so fast. I didn’t know the third tug came from mom’s hand instead of Carter’s. Clearly she was testing me to gauge my reaction the third time. And I failed. Miserably. Say a Little Prayer

My reaction wasn’t nearly fierce enough to hurt mom, but I realized moments later in the bitter aftermath it probably could have hurt Carter. Pretty badly, in fact. Because mom was mad. And by mad, I mean she was yelling and screaming at me like I’ve never seen her yell and scream at me before. Ever. “BAD DOG, WILEY!” she yelled. “BAD DOG! BAD DOG! BAD DOG! THAT COULD HAVE BEEN CARTER’S FACE!” It went on and on for what seemed like an eternity. I think people forget sometimes that we move along in our minds well before we do in our hearts. But that’s neither here nor there.

The truth is simple. I screwed up. I wasn’t thinking, but that is no excuse. There is no excuse for what happened this morning. And there is punishment in knowing I can never take back that moment. I have to earn back the trust of my dear forever mom, which is something I held so dear. But that’s not even the worst of it. The worst of it is not the anger or the yelling. It’s the disappointment. I could see it in her eyes (which almost instantaneously welled up with tears) and I could hear it in her voice. She was disappointed in me. And that is truly heartbreaking.

But today, as I recommit and ask God for better patience with the ever-more-mobile dear baby Carter, I pause to reflect on the words of well-known American politician Martin Luther King Jr., who said “there can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”

Thank goodness for that because I think I’ll be spending a little time in the proverbial dog house for a while.

 

The Joy of Restoration June 1, 2014

Something pretty special happened today. I know I’ve said so before, but it really is a shame they don’t let four-legged friends into that place called church. Because today my dear baby Carter was baptized. He was made new. While I say he’s been one all along, he “officially” became Jesus’ little lamb.

All of this apparently happened at that place called church, so I had to rely on the stories and photos afterward to learn of what occurred. It sounds like it was really something. Carter didn’t cry or babble or squeak (it’s a high-pitched bird-like sound he discovered he could make recently). Instead he smiled. He smiled while the congregation sang songs of praise. He smiled at people in other pews. And he smiled as the pastor baptized him.

This was somewhat a miracle since I know the time of day this all happened is usually his (and my) mid-morning nap time. But instead he did what he does best. He shared joy. He did it at church and at home later (after his nap).

Happiness All of that preparation on the table cloths yesterday was unnecessary, since the party took to the backyard. God smiled on our day with plenty of beautiful sunshine and warmth. And the 12 pounds of pork? It turned out perfectly. I may have gotten a sample (or two) from a few family members whose identities will be protected.

So there we were, all together for the first time since baby Carter was born. Mom’s family and dad’s families came together in one place to celebrate the joy of restoration. I know they weren’t there to see me, but having everyone together like this in my backyard paradise brought me the sincerest of restorative joy.

Something pretty special happened today. I still say they should have let me come to the church. But alas, the meaning behind the day takes center stage in my heart whether or not I was there to witness it. Because I witnessed the aftermath. Joy. From the ground up, it was realized by my beloved forever family today. And in doing so it brought to life my belief that faith restores us, and in turn restores the world to the way it was intended to be.

Check out Carter and mom in church: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=576672457867&l=121c4add20

 

Look Up To The Sky May 29, 2014

It was a beautiful day around here. The perfect 70 degree sunny day without a cloud in the sky. I spent some time in my backyard paradise this afternoon soaking up the sun and thinking. This, I was reminded today, is one of my very most favorite ways to spend an afternoon. Especially when mom and baby Carter are around to keep me company. So there I was, finding myself drifting into a deep and happy sleep. It was one of those moments in life where you feel nothing but joy.

Treasure HuntingThen it happened. My dream became a nightmare as I saw my worst fears realized. The man with the leather belt somehow found me. Jo was not with him, which was somehow bothersome and happy at the same time. (I know in my heart she is happy and fulfilled and away from him somewhere). He found me, though. And dear baby Carter. It was just the two of us (for some crazy reason) and we were happy as could be until he came along. Fortunately mom woke me up (as she has a habit of doing when I’m barking or whining in my sleep) and I didn’t need to witness what happened next.

It made me afraid to nap the rest of the day, that’s for sure. But as time went on, so did life. From the ground up, I found joy in everything around me this afternoon. It was nothing out of the ordinary around here – Carter is still deeply attached to his eat, wake, sleep routines. That all happened as usual. And as it did I found myself finding peace in these moments. Finding joy in these moments. Embracing life in these moments.

As this happened I knew why I had that terrible nightmare. It was a beautiful day around here. It was one of those days that makes you thankful to be alive in the first place. But I’ve said before I think God throws us on our backs sometimes to force us to look up. Well, today I looked up at the beautiful sky and was reminded yet again of that poem “Footprints in the Sand.” In my case it’s paw prints, but that’s no matter. The message is the same. Sometimes we don’t know we are being carried through something until it’s already happened. Sometimes it’s not until we look back that we see how far we’ve come.

 

 

 

 

 

What To Expect December 22, 2013

We’ve got hiccups known as practice breathing. We’ve got normal aches and pains. We’ve got the baby bump (which has been a very comfy pillow for me lately). But of all the things in all the books and all the online reading, I certainly didn’t expect this.

At nine months pregnant, mom got some startling news from her doctor the other day. Baby Schmidt is racing to the finish line. It turns out he or she is growing exceptionally fast for his or her gestational age, with measurements that put our dear soon-to-be little person in the not-so-little category. Mom went to something called an ultrasound to confirm the details, and sure enough. Baby Schmidt’s measurements reveal a baby that could be as much as nine pounds. Already. At 36 weeks.

This came as quite the surprise to me, as I have resigned myself to thinking I will not be meeting my little person for some time yet. Just because the bottles are all sterilized and the clothes are all washed and the room is put together (and has been for more than a month now) doesn’t mean the arrival will happen any sooner.Snowy Sunday

But alas, perhaps it could. To me this is joyous news! My little person wants to meet me sooner rather than later! I’m pumped! So I can’t quite piece together why mom seems so worried. Worry has been the dominating emotion around here lately and I can’t say it’s my favorite. She is my person and I can’t stand to see her like this. But I’ve done everything I can do – including some fun in the snow today followed by serious cuddle time – to bring that worry out of her. Nothing is working.

Instead she continues to consult those darned books and blogs and all other sources of potentially scary information. Worry isn’t getting us anywhere. I realized today it never does. Pregnant or otherwise, worry tends to do nothing but stall forward progress.

“While we are focusing on fear, worry, or hate,” suggested author Bo Bennett, “it is not possible for us to be experiencing happiness, enthusiasm or love.”

From practice breathing to aches and pains to the bittersweet beauty of the baby bump, we’ve got a whole lot of normal going on around here. Even this news is okay news. Normal news. There is joy in these things. So I chose to focus on that – the happiness, enthusiasm and love. Because these are the emotional fuel for something much bigger than worry. These are the fuel for faith. And faith conquers worry every time.

 

Rewriting the Story December 8, 2013

Thirteen. That is how many baby- and pregnancy-related books I counted in the Schmidt home today. If you ask me that is thirteen too many. Between the books and the pamphlets from the hospital and the email subscriptions and the web sites, my forever mom has become a battle bot of knowledge on all things baby.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Nothing of the sort. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – knowledge is power. But my observations lately inform me that information overload is not such a good thing either. Especially when third trimester hormones are involved. Too much information is making it very easy for her to feel overwhelmed, incapable, frustrated and fatigued. None of these are emotions I like to allow in the Schmidt home for too long if I can help it.

No more reading!But alas, my lack of opposable thumbs has kept me from removing the books from the residence. And (even if I did) she would still have all of the Internet resources at her fingertips. So you can imagine my relief when something magical happened today. The baby, my future little person, did the work for me.

It was freaky. And beautiful. And absurd. And amazing. I saw the baby move today. And it was all of these things and more to me. Mom has been seeing the little person moving for a couple of weeks now, but this was the first time I witnessed the miracle firstpaw. My stomach somersaulted when it happened, much like the baby appeared to be doing.

That’s when I realized I have nothing to worry about. There isn’t much I can do about the barrage of baby books throughout the house. (Thirteen, to be exact. But who’s counting?) Instead I have resolved to resume my stance that knowledge is power. Because I know that (like me) mom learns best by experiencing something. Living in the moment has much more profound an impact than words on a page.

So in that moment, when I could see mom’s tummy moving to and fro, I found comfort in the truth. It doesn’t matter what the baby books say. That little person will rewrite the story as soon as he or she is born. Forget the baby books. That is the story I can’t wait to start reading.

 

Elf on the Shelf December 6, 2013

The stare ahead. That’s what mom calls one of my most favorite moves I use to initiate play. And I suppose it’s pretty accurate whether my play mate has two legs or four. My head and eyes face straight ahead and I don’t make any eye contact. Don’t tell anyone I told you, but I’ve trained both mom and dad play along with me and act out similar behaviors. It’s my creative way of getting them to play chase with me. And it always works.

A Small SmileToday I got to thinking about this stare ahead and what it means for the power of the eyes. They seem to have just as much impact when they’re not looking at the subject as when they are. It reminds me a bit of this thing I’ve heard about lately called the elf on the shelf.

Apparently there is a large family of elves originally from the North Pole who, once adopted into a home, report back to Santa about the behavior of the children who live there. They leave at night to fulfill their mission, and return in a new spot each morning to resume observation duty. It sounds like a mighty important job if you ask me.

Almost as important as the original elf on the shelf. The Creator of watching without looking. The omnipresent and omnipotent “big guy” upstairs in that place called heaven. He is always watching us. And it’s no game for Him. Because (perhaps most importantly) He isn’t just seeing us. He is with us. He sees our good days and bad. He celebrates with us and cries with us. With no words at all, He crafts blessings s from teardrops. But because we can’t feel Him always looking directly at us, it can be easy to forget He’s there.

It’s very different from the stare ahead. And yet it brings me peace. Not only to know I’m always being looked after in every possible way, but in feeling empowered by that knowledge. I’ve always had my reasons for playing the stare ahead game. And while those won’t be changing any time soon, my perspective of my surroundings certainly will. Because just as I know the big guy in that place called heaven is watching over me, I know He would want me to watch over others in my own way very different from that of the elf on the shelf.
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“They might not need me, but they might,” wrote great American poet Emily Dickinson. “I’ll let my head be just in sight; a smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity.”

 

Rear View Mirror November 15, 2013

It has many faces and wears many hats. But the faces scare me and (let’s be honest) hats are not a dog’s best friend. Evil. It’s become such a foreign concept to me in my forever home, that it’s commonplace for me to forget it exists altogether.

Then I see something like I did on the side of the road on the way to the dog park, and it all comes rushing back. I know mom saw it too, and neither of us knew what to do. It was startling. So we drove on, and I wondered whether that was really the right thing to do. A man and a woman were arguing by a car when it happened. The man took the woman by the neck and (rather violently) threw her toward the nearby ditch. I was relieved to see them both get in the car and drive away from the safety of the rear view mirror.

Rear View MirrorWe made it to the park a few minutes later and I found myself lost in my thoughts as mom and I walked together on the trail. I realized that’s kind of the embodiment of evil in my life. The rear view mirror. It’s in my past, behind me and forgotten. And for that I am so grateful. But it’s not that way for everyone. Seeing what happened to that poor woman on the side of the road today was proof enough of that.

Maybe I’ve been going about this concept of evil all wrong. Just because something is in the mirror doesn’t mean it’s not really there. It’s there, alive and real, and ready to take the wheel if we let it. It does no good to pretend it isn’t.

Evil. My journey through life has led me to believe it has many faces and wears many hats. It’s that man on the side of the road. It’s in the eyes of Demon Dog in my backyard. It was in the hands of the man with the leather belt. It’s in the worry currently consuming my people. The faces of evil scare me and (let’s be honest) hats are not a dog’s best friend. But that’s no reason to ignore it altogether.

“Wisdom we know is the knowledge of good and evil,” suggested American writer John Cheever, “not the strength to chose between the two.” It’s an easy choice to me. What’s more challenging is looking in that rear view mirror, acknowledging the evil that exists, and moving on. Make them wonder why you’re smiling. Because good ultimately wins that battle every time.

 

No Words November 14, 2013

I don’t have a choice. All I get is my eyes, my tail, and the occasional strategic placement of my head or paws. Any other methods of communication are hard to come by when you have four legs. So I have to admit, days like today take a toll on my emotions.

We canines may not be able to see the entirety of the color spectrum, but I know with certainty that I saw my fair share of blue today. Mom is feeling blue, which is apparently a people term used to explain her emotionally cloudy forecast. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that little person inside her is somehow bringing down her morale. No Words

Because she’s been talking a whole lot about worry. She’s worried about the baby’s health. And being a good parent. And labor. And the money. Especially the money. Last I checked, money is green so I don’t know how it could be making her feel so blue. I stand, sit or lay idly by, all-the-while wishing there would be something – anything – I could say to make it better.

Then I hear dad say exactly what I would be saying and suddenly I don’t mind being silent. He tells her to calm down. Relax. Everything will work out. These are the things I would be telling her, too, if I could. But this is not the first time (and certainly won’t be the last) that there are no words. As I observed from dad’s attempt, it’s sometimes better not to say anything than to complicate the situation by throwing words in the mix. Sometimes a person just needs a hug.

I don’t have a choice. All I have is my eyes, my tail, and the strategic placement of my head or paws to communicate. And maybe that’s not so bad after all. Because as much words can help, they can also complicate things. Especially when it’s more a matter of faith than anything else. Faith takes no words. Faith is simply believing in the power that is contained in something so much more than words.

So tonight I keep quiet and instead silently pray for resolutions to come to some of mom’s worries. That peace come to her overwhelmed heart. But I can’t pray with my eyes, tail and paws any more than I can pray with words. Instead tonight I pray with my heart. “Prayer is not asking,” Mahatma Gandhi reflected, “It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of  one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

 

From the Ground Up October 28, 2013

Scientists claim us canines can understand somewhere between 100 and 200 people words. I say that’s hogwash. What these calculations can’t account for is our keen awareness of human emotion, which so frequently is hard to encapsulate into a word.Gaining Perspective

Treat. Outside. Dog park. These are words a dog comes to know. Sit, lay down, roll over. These are tricks of the canine trade. But love, faith, forgiveness and loyalty? These are words to live by. In a constantly evolving language, these words remain steadfast.

I have never been a big supporter of the “less is more” philosophy, but perhaps there is some insight to be gained from it in the case of conversation. Sometimes less really is more, given the understanding is there to aid in translation. My favorite Lebanese thinker Khalil Gibran challenged that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be?

I know mine certainly wouldn’t be treats, outside, dog park, sit, laydown and rollover. Mine would be the foundations from which all other language could be understood. Forgiveness. Compassion. Loyalty. Love. Laughter. Faith. Joy. From the ground up, these would be my seven words of choice because these are words us canines know inside and out.

We don’t hold grudges. We know when to be still and listen. We pause (in all our overwhelmed excitement) to welcome our loved ones home whether they’ve been gone five minutes or five days. We love unconditionally – and find creative ways to show it. We know how to bring fun to the party. We know who we are – and embrace it. We have faith in ourselves, which enables us to have faith in others. And, through it all, we know how to bring the light of joy into the darkest of situations.

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life,” Gibran suggested, “not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

Scientists have their theories. And maybe they’re right. But they didn’t account for the unique perspective we canines bring to human emotion. Literally and figuratively, there’s this thing about the attitude I chose to bring to life. When you see life from the ground up as I do, you are already on the ground. Regardless of how you got there, you are at ground zero. And there is no where to go but up.