Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

With My Love March 5, 2015

It’s supposed to be easier the second time around. I’m supposed to worry less and be less concerned with each and every little thing that happens. And to some extent, I do.

But throughout my dear forever mom’s pregnancy with baby number two, I can’t help it. I care, so I worry. It’s as simple as that. Those who know me say I’ve been especially needy lately, but I’m not sure that’s an accurate portrayal of what is happening in my heart right now. My heart hurts with excitement and anxiety and joy and fear for my forever people, who will bring home a new little person in a few short months.

So I snuggle. Hi Baby

It’s not that unusual for me to assume position on mom’s lap the second dear baby Carter isn’t occupying the space. I still cram myself into the smallest crevice of space next to her on couches and chairs. And today, something happened that made my heart skip a beat.

I felt the baby. I had my head on mom’s tummy as we sat together in the afternoon sun while Carter napped. I was dreaming about something or another when it happened. I felt a kick. And another. And another. It startled me out of my sleep, that’s for sure.

I couldn’t help but feel a bit sentimental about when that happened with Carter all those months ago. It’s crazy to think about now that he’s a frolicking 14-month-old. And even crazier to think about what that tiny kicking little person will look like 14 months from now.

That’s when I realized I am doing it again. I care, so I worry. That’s why it’s not any easier the second time around. I worry now just as much as I did with dear baby Carter. Because she’s my person. My forever mom is just that – and she will always be my world.

I’m cherishing my time with her, and protecting her in the only way I know how. With my love. So what if they call me needy? These are special times around here, and I’m not going to miss a single minute of it.

 

Labor of Love September 1, 2014

It’s official. The cheese has fallen off my dear forever mom’s cracker. Truth be told, it’s been coming on for a while. Eight months ago yesterday, she was ending her torturous journey of pregnancy with the pinnacle of labor and delivery. Eight months ago, she and dad brought home dear baby Carter. Eight months ago he was a little 20.5 inches 7 pound ounces of a bundle otherwise known as joy. Eight months ago he cried all night every night for  weeks. And eight months ago it started.

All In the EyesMom wants another little person. She wants another teeny tiny snuggle bug. Eight months later, Carter isn’t so snuggly any more. It’s gotten worse since he’s been crawling all over the place and pulling himself up on anything vertical. Snuggles are a thing of the past for him, at least for now. I’m sure that’s not the only reason mom wants another little person (I think she has said something about the sibling relationship), but it seems too small a reason for me. Because dad and I think she’s absolutely nuts.

Sure, we’ve had it pretty easy with Carter. He slept through the night early, picked up a daily routine quickly and is generally in a fairly happy mood. Teething hasn’t been easy on the poor little guy, but he seems to be moving along with that as well as to be expected. But another one?

I think mom must be forgetting her battle bra royale (which continues on a daily basis), and the breakdowns about clothing and the back pain and the rib pain and all the pain she experienced throughout pregnancy. If she’s not forgetting that, she certainly must be forgetting the 16 hours she spent in labor to deliver dear baby Carter into the world. Or the painful recovery afterward, made more complicated by the incessant lack of sleep.

Or maybe not. Today I realized maybe she does remember it. All of it. Maybe that’s why she wants to do it again. For her, it was all a labor of love. For her, it is a labor of love. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still with dad on this one. I think one little person is plenty around here. But I think I can at least acknowledge where she’s coming from. She’s thinking with her heart instead of her mind. She’s remembering the more effort you put into something the more you usually get out of it. The more it means to you.

I don’t know what the future holds in this regard. I probably won’t for a while. But I do know this is yet another reason to feel blessed that I have landed in the forever home I have. There is certainly no shortage of love around here. Even if it is a little crazy sometimes.

 

Change The World March 24, 2014

It seemed doable. Help me get my first book in order. Keep the house clean. Send the book to a few publishers. Do the laundry. Get a book deal all lined up. Make dinner. Totally doable. Except it wasn’t.

This is what I had in mind when I first heard my forever mom would be home with my new little person and I for almost a whole 12 weeks after he was born. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s one of those things she apparently read about in all the baby books and blogs and online forums and neglected to tell anyone. Maybe because she hoped it wouldn’t be true. But it was.Boppy buddies

Tomorrow is the 12-week anniversary of dear Carter’s birth. And while mom has done a pretty stellar job (at least in my opinion) of keeping the house in order during that time, anything beyond that has all but fallen by the wayside. That thing all her friends told her about never having time to so much as shower on a daily basis? Truth.

So you can imagine how far my plans for our book deal didn’t get. I may as well have added changing the world to the to-do list. Ultimately that’s what I want to do with my book after all. But now that mom is back to work and we are in transition, I realized today the biggest thing standing in the way of changing the world is ourselves.

I watch as mom holds herself to impossible standards. She is always trying to do everything (and then some). Trying to be everything to everyone. And when it’s all said and done, she ends up losing herself in a disarray of high expectations and disappointment. It’s a nightmare to watch. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live.

To me it seemed doable. But maybe that was my mistake. What do I know? I have two main jobs in life – love my people with all of my heart and soul and share my joy with the world. Everything else is taken care of for me. The same cannot be said of my people. They work hard. They have long lists of things to do that don’t always get done. It must be pretty normal for people to have this problem.

Except I can’t say it’s actually a problem when you know the solution. It’s tough for just one person to do it all. To change the world. But we, together, can change the world. We just have to work together. We just have to live. We just have to do it one paw print at a time. All forward motion counts.

Today’s post is dedicated to my dear friend HuntMode, who helped me see the light on this topic today.

Thank you, Huntie, for your friendship and love.

 

Two Weeks Notice March 18, 2014

May 15, 2009. That’s when it started. I wasn’t around then, but I’ve heard the story dozens of times. Mom was called into that place called work (which at the time was a newspaper newsroom) and told she would be one of about half of the staff to be let go that day. She was okay with it because she knew in her heart then what she believes now. The world is our oyster.

Two weeks later, her dad died. Suddenly and unexpectedly. She didn’t get to say goodbye. So begins the blip of time that spreads over the last five years.

What to say?After a few months of helping her mom sort through the details of the estate, a new job in a completely different position in wealth management (for which she was technically incredibly unqualified) fell into her lap and she seized the opportunity to rejoin the workforce. She studied hard, learned fast, and within a couple more months earned her Series 7, 63 and life and health insurance licenses. With absolutely no prior experience or education in anything relating to finance or financial planning.

I don’t know if she believes it, but I know she can do anything she puts her mind to. Because now, five years later, it’s almost like it never happened. Literally. And yet it did. It so vividly did.

I’ve learned something through all of this – it turns out I’m pretty good at keeping secrets. First, with news of the baby, then with the sex of the baby, and now this. I’ve known for a while it was happening but I couldn’t share the good news until now.

Mom put in her two weeks notice yesterday. She will no longer be going to that place called work. Well, technically she will still be working. But I’ve always been a believer that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. And if there is something out of the ordinary that mom and I share it is our love for writing.

Alas, mom’s old beat at the newspaper just happened to open up recently. The exact same beat covering the local news in the exact same communities as she covered back in 2009. I call that a God thing. She will definitely have more time with baby Carter than if she kept her current job, while maintaining the majority of the necessary financial support I need to ensure I keep receiving the appropriate amount of dog treats and new chew toys. It’s the best of both worlds.

February 11, 2014. That’s when it started again. It’s like mom’s life hit the refresh button. As much as the job in wealth management has been good for the last few years, this is what is good right now. They say everything happens for a reason. Now I know it to be true.

 

You Just Wait March 12, 2014

Apparently it’s one of those things parents say to each other. Like the never ending piece of advice stuck on repeat in the CD player. And while I’m usually all for taking in and putting to practice any piece of advice or wisdom, this has (of late) been one of my least favorite tracks. You just wait.

When my forever mom was up all night because baby Carter was beat boxing on her ribs, people told her. You just wait. After he was born and he was sleeping in teeny tiny increments of time, people told her. You just wait. Even now, when he’s starting to interact with the world in both smiles and experimental cries, people tell her. You just wait. Cuddles

And I will tell you. Each and every time someone says this, I watch as she visibly tenses up and I know better than anyone else what she’s thinking. YOU just wait. Because here’s the thing about unsolicited advice and wisdom. It’s great when it means something positive. And it’s even all right when it means something negative, as long as it’s delivered in the right way. But even when you’re a boy dog who will never in a million years understand the mystery of birth, I can hear it.

There is something grating about hearing someone imply things will get worse before they will get better. It doesn’t matter if its family life, work life, personal life, or whatever sort of life path you’re on – it just plain sucks to hear even the slightest implication of things being worse on the horizon.

That is, until you live it. I know it grated on my mom’s nerves when people told her to “just wait” for what sleep would be like after the baby was born. I know it the same as I know things will only be getting more complicated from here as Carter figures out his emotions. Happy and sad. Love and hate. Chaos and peace. You just wait.

It’s a track that has been stuck on repeat far too long around here. And yet I know its one we need to hear. Not necessarily as its intended from its various unsolicited advisors. Because tone has no place in true wisdom. Instead I would rather cherish the good things that come to those who “just wait.” I cherish the first full night’s sleep my people have had in a while. And these first smiles that are happening on purpose. And that look of recognition when mom and dad talk and he seems calmed by their voices.

As one who has just waited, I can definitely confirm a certain and undeniable truth. It’s always worth the wait.

 

My Newborn Baby Survival Kit March 1, 2014

I told you so. I don’t often say such things, but in this case I need to take credit where credit is due. I said it six months ago and I will say it again. Too much is too much when it comes to the ridiculously copious amounts of baby things people can buy these days.

In my opinion it’s an awful tirade on the hormonal instability of first-time expectant mothers who are by nature on a quest to nest. Sure, the purchase of baby things had a direct inverse relationship to the amount of doggie things coming through the door of my forever home. But that didn’t bother me like this does.The "stuff" and me Bumbo chair

Ultimately, it’s just stuff. That’s what dad said tonight as we got Carter ready for bedtime. If we’d only known what we really needed, he said. That is exactly true. But as life would have it, you often don’t know these things until you’re living through them. And while experience has demonstrated the importance of baby accoutrement like the Boppy pillow, sleep sacks, and sleepers that zip (rather than snap), I have developed my own list of necessities for surviving those crucial first weeks as a new parent.

1. Sleep. Get it when you can. It doesn’t matter if its five minutes or five hours. Every little bit counts. (Almost) everything else stems from this.

2. Patience. It’s happened to mom. It’s happened to dad. Sometimes there just isn’t enough patience to go around. But any time you can catch yourself and remember to be patient is better than a time you didn’t.

3. Love. I’m not talking puppy love. I’m talking the unconditional love us canines have so graciously mastered. It’s not always easy to speak and act in love when you’re overtired and hungry and can’t remember the last time you showered, but it is a worthwhile investment that pays priceless dividends.

4. Family. Whether they are blood relatives or family friends, it really does take a village. Also, it helps if this village brings food whenever possible. That’s the last thing on the mind of an overtired set of parents even though it’s entirely vital.

5. Joy. It’s the only defense against the stress.

Things you won’t find on this list? An extra dozen pacifiers. Or three different kinds of receiving blankets. Or even that silly Bumbo chair. And that’s just during pregnancy. Needs can blur with wants in any scenario life hands us. But regardless of where you are in your walk of life, the lesson remains the same. Needs and wants can get a little fuzzy sometimes, but the best things are those money can’t buy.

 

The Alien Visitor December 27, 2013

It’s about the right size. And it’s plush like my other toys. Except apparently it’s not for me. It’s for the baby. And I have to say, in my little doggie opinion it’s among the strangest things that has taken up residence in the nursery.

At first I wasn’t sure what to make of that crib contraption which will apparently keep me from cuddling with my new little person. Then I was thrown off by the big huge boxes labeled “diapers.” There are just so many! This baby couldn’t possibly require that many diapers. (Right?) Then came the little blue seahorse. At least that’s what my people call it. I call it the alien visitor, which I feel accurately reflects my denial to its presence.

It looks like something I’d love to sink my teeth into and give a good shake. Yet I can tell that is not going to earn me any brownie points any time soon. Because this is a toy for baby Schmidt, mom explained to me, not for doggies.Seahorse and I - We are not friends

There’s that darned phrase again. I know it all too well. Not for doggies. Well, at least in this case, it’s fine with me that this seahorse and I do not become friends. The toy is not of my concern.

I realized today (as I kept a safe distance from the wave-like sounds the seahorse was making) that can be said of any of the toys my little person will receive. I know there’s also a teddy bear that makes sounds and a little Scottie dog. But none of these things can come close to the relationship I plan to have with him or her.

We are going to laugh and run and play together. (All in due time, I know). We are going to take long walks together and I’m going to teach him or her games like pickle in the middle and chase. We are going to be best friends. I can feel it. And I can hardly wait.

“Friendship improves happiness and abates misery,” suggested Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero, “by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.” As frightening as it can be with all it’s different lights and sounds, that seahorse is more than a visitor. I think he’s staying a while. But that’s okay because I know in my heart he doesn’t have anything on me.

 

Joy: From the Inside Out December 21, 2013

I don’t even know what to say. That’s right, all. Something has rendered me speechless. It’s shocking, I know. Almost as shocking as thinking about the meaning of today.

On December 21, 2012 I felt inspired. It was snowing, and mom and I were happy together, and I didn’t know which came first, her laughter or my joy. It fell from the sky that day. And I remember the moment like it was yesterday. It was like a light bulb turned on in my heart and I knew what I had to do. I had to share this magic with whomever would take it. Joy. From the ground up, it became my 365-day mission to share it with the world.

Dog Blog with a CauseAnd that’s what I’ve done. Every day for a year, I have written about everything from existential philosophy to canine poop rituals. Because that’s life. It’s random and messy and beautiful and heart wrenching and hard and fabulous all at the same time. And I love every minute of it.

That doesn’t stop just because my one-year commitment has come to pass. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have grown, over the last year, to better understand myself, the world I live in, and how those two things interact and create the blessing that is life.

This knowledge has empowered me to take on a new mission that promises to be challenging in a whole new way. I want to continue sharing my unique perspective on joy. From the inside out, our understanding of joy in the Schmidt house is bound to change in the next year. Any day now, my little person is going to bring his or her joy into our world. If we thought we knew joy before, I think we have a whole other thing coming.

I know there will also be sleepless nights and dirty diapers and (gasp) a little less attention coming my way. And I may not be able to share these happenings quite as regularly as I have for the last year. But that’s life. From the ground up, the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the course of my blogging journey it is that this thing called life is certainly worth living to the fullest.

“Nobody gets to live life backward,” advice columnist Ann Landers suggested. “Look ahead, that is where your future lies.” The past has become my future and my future will soon become my present. From the inside out, joy is most definitely upon us. So today I turn the page. I start a new chapter. And I’m not going to lie – it’s one I can’t wait to read either.

 

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.”

 

Great Expectations November 3, 2013

I’m not sure what I expected. We are a little more than seven months into this journey of life change (otherwise known as pregnancy) and I’ve noticed some patterns.

Feeling the LoveAlmost every time mom comes home from wherever those errand places are, she has some baby things. Diapers or wipes or onesies or sleepers. It’s like an addiction. I hear it’s called nesting and it’s normal. Meanwhile I find myself wondering whether mom realizes she will indeed still be able to leave the house after the baby is born. It’s not like the birth of my little person is the baby apocalypse.

Then there is dad. He is nesting in his own unique way. Projects. It’s become a weekly thing around here. One after the next after the next. It started with the wood trim, which he insisted would look better white. So he made it happen. Then came the kitchen table switcheroo – the nine-piece table formerly in our kitchen has been resigned to storage and replaced with a smaller five-piece version that dad has overhauled. What was once an outdated table now looks like something you’d see on one of those shows on HGTV, complete with bright colors and trendy new fabric seats.

It happened again today. Mom went grocery shopping and came back with an extra bag of baby goodies. And dad finished painting the trim in the bedroom. So I did what any dog would do. I slept the day away.

But I can’t stop thinking about these patterns. Especially dad’s since mom has basically been wearing her (pregnancy hormone driven) emotions on her sleeve. Dad holds such things a lot closer to the vest. I thought this might change or develop somehow during the pregnancy process, but it seems I was wrong.

Frankly, I think he’s freaked. And these projects are his way of focusing at least some of that nervous energy on forward progress. I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing, since most of what he’s working on he’s been talking about since I first came into my forever home. There’s no time like the present, as they say.

I don’t know what I expected but I do know one thing for sure. He shouldn’t be nervous. American writer Clarence Budington Kelland said it best. “He didn’t tell me how to live,” as American writer Clarence Budington Kelland said, “he lived, and let me watch him do it.” I’ve seen him with the nieces and nephews (otherwise known as my favorite little people). I’ve watched him take care of mom after her knee surgery. And I’ve lived it. Firsthand.

Sure, he was a little hesitant to let me into his heart (similar to him being nervous about having a baby in the house). But he’s a great dad. I couldn’t ask for someone more caring and fun and loving (even though he still won’t admit he loves me). He lives, and I am a better doggie because I watch him do it.