Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

To Be Still March 29, 2015

The sky cried today. It was dreary and cold and windy outside. But none of that mattered, because there were no tears inside. There was only warmth and laughter and relaxation. Sleeeeeeep

The bad news is that had a lot to do with the fact that this illness that my dear forever mom has is spreading. Between dad’s sneezing and dear baby Carter’s coughing, all I can say is I’m pretty relieved things like this usually don’t pass to man’s four-legged friends.

The good news is it was a day to remember. I honestly can’t recall the last time I watched as all of my dearest people spent the day together in their pajamas. It didn’t matter that the sky was crying and it was cold and dreary outside.

Inside there was playing and resting and playing some more. There was snuggling and cuddling. There was joy, from the ground up.

Yes, there was also sneezing and coughing. And yes, no one is feeling 100 percent. But today, as I snuggled into a spot much too small for me next to mom and dad and Carter on the couch, I realized how important these days are to have every now and then.

It doesn’t necessarily need to happen in pajamas, but there was something nice (and cozy) about the fact that it did. As a (somewhat professional) observer of people, I can say with some authority that today was necessary regardless of the coughs and sneezes.

The reasons are different for everyone. Around here, it’s been all things baby No. 2 lately, with endless errands to stockpile things like diapers and make sure the nursery is just as it should be. Weekend respite from the daily grind doesn’t always happen like it should between nap times, at least not with groceries to buy and cleaning and laundry to be done. Rat race takes on a whole new meaning when there’s a new little person on the way.

So what happened today was special. Sometimes you really do just need to be still. To be together.

Days like today are not only good for their health. Days like today are good for their hearts.

 

 

Family Ties March 19, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 8:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

There is wagging. And there is screeching. It’s the same for most visitors to my forever home these days. They are greeted as they always have been with my enthusiasm, followed almost immediately by a happily squealing dear baby Carter.

Today was no different as we got a visit from great grandma and great auntie. There was wagging and screeching. (Also, they brought yummy smelling food, so there may have been some jumping). They came to visit mom and Carter after not seeing us for a couple months. And it was nice.Family

Not just because I scored table scraps from more than one person (who will remain anonymous to ensure similar behavior in the future) or because it was simply a joy to see them. It was nice because time has no bearing with family. Sure, it’s been too long since we’d all been together. But you couldn’t have guessed it.

Love. From the ground up, it filled my forever home today as we primarily all watched Carter engage in various toddler antics. He sampled his first donut (which means I sampled it too, of course). He showed them his old room where the new baby is going to be in a couple months. He ripped his socks off and put them on his hands (much to the dismay of great grandma). And they laughed.

Best of all, the love didn’t only fill the air. It filled my heart. Both guests made a point to take some time to give me pets in all of my favorite places. This warmed my heart even more since a lot of visitors who are not around my home very often focus entirely on dear Carter. Though it doesn’t bother me, it certainly is nice to be the center of attention again, even if it is only for a few minutes every now and then.

My time today with the wagging and squealing and laughing brought to life the words of American actor Michael J. Fox, who suggested “family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

Every Second Counts March 2, 2015

It’s a pretty morbid thought in my opinion. Yet it’s something that dear baby Carter seems to get behind, so I guess I can give it the benefit of the doubt.

Every time he hears this song, his reaction is the same. Whether he is in his high chair or running down the hallway or trying (and failing) to climb the stairs, he stops cold and starts bouncing around like a ninny. Sunshine, in a Smile

It’s called “Live Like We’re Dying,” and in it Kris Allen suggests making the most of every moment since we never know when it might be our last. And my dear innocent 14-month-old Carter loves all three minutes and forty-three seconds of it.

“So if your life flashed before you, what would you wish you would’ve done?” the song asks. “Yeah, we gotta start looking at the hands of the time we’ve been given. If this is all we got and we gotta start thinking if every second counts on a clock that’s ticking, gotta live like we’re dying.”

I will admit to liking the message, but the context bothers me every time. No one is dying. We’re too busy living.
At least that’s how I felt until it happened tonight. Right there, amid the relaxing routine of Carter’s bedtime, I heard the most beautiful thing. Laughter. From the ground up, all three of my beloved forever people were laughing hysterically. And it made my heart smile.
From what I could tell, mom was making a blowing noise on Carters belly, causing him to laugh longer and with more vigor than I have ever heard from him in his short life. The result was laughter from mom and dad. It went on like that for five precious minutes before Carter remembered he was tired and it was time to go to sleep.
But the length of time didn’t matter. Because in those minutes the laughter brought with it an understanding that it doesn’t matter that no one is dying. It’s that every second counts. The way I see it now, that’s the real point of the song.
That must be why Carter stops cold every time he hears it. It’s not because someone is dying. It’s because we’re too busy living.

 

 

When Tomorrow Comes February 20, 2015

I thought maybe it would change after Carter was born. Or definitely after mom’s work schedule allowed her a little more time at home during the week. Or certainly when it was determined that Carter would have mostly in-home care. But this simple truth remains the same.

I love Fridays. It is (by far) my favorite day of the week. In The Right Direction

A lot has changed in my world since I last made this proclamation. I used to spend most of my weekdays napping alone in various places in the house. I would count down the minutes until mom came home from that place called work over her lunch break and we would walk the neighborhood. The countdown would then resume as she returned to work for the remainder of the afternoon. It was agony, though I never minded the naps.

People are always here now. Around the clock, someone is here, in my forever home. I’m rarely alone anymore, except for when Carter and family venture out into the world. And then, I don’t really mind the alone time since it doesn’t happen that often.

So much has changed in my world and yet this simple truth remains the same. Fridays are my most favorite day of the week. I sense it in my forever family, too, like we all are on the same page emotionally from the moment we wake in the morning. It’s going to be a good day. It’s going to be better than yesterday. Because it’s Friday.

I find this is especially true after a week like we had. Beginning to end, it was rough. More challenging than most.

But today we woke up and it was like we collectively decided it was going to be a better day if, for no other reason than that it is Friday. And why, might you ask, is Friday so special? I can’t speak for my people, but I speak for myself in my appreciation of this day as the start of the longest straight stretch of family time I get in a week.

It’s the start of the weekend, where the family is together (more often than not) and joy is personified in the simplest of ways. It lives in the moments where there is laughter and silliness. It breathes the life back into us in a way no other set of days can. It reinvigorates. It rejuvenates. It restores. Until Monday comes, and again we patiently wait.

 

Hurry Up (and wait) February 3, 2015

Twenty two minutes. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but for me it was an eternity. I was ready to go the moment I heard my forever mom say it. “Want to go play in the snow when dad gets home?” she asked dear baby Carter. Unlike me, he didn’t really register much about her words other than the word “dad.” But I knew fun was in the near future and I was ready. Waiting

What I wasn’t ready for was the preparation it would take for my people to be ready. There were snow pants and hats and mittens and boots.  And layers (and layers) of clothes. Mom and Carter weren’t feeling the best yesterday, so no caution was spared in terms of ensuring they were cozy and warm. The same goes for dad when he got home a few minutes later. All said and done, it took twenty two minutes for my forever family to be backyard ready.

Fresh snowflakes fell from the sky as family playtime ensued in the foot (or so) of snow we were walloped with the other day. I stood back and watched as poor Carter sank into the snow. Moving wasn’t really an option at that point, but that didn’t change the smile on his face. I watched as he laid back and watched the snowflakes fall, covering his eyelashes like angel dust. I watched as my parents sat by his side and took it all in.

And I realized as I watched that if I could make a snowglobe, it would look just like this. With my people and their joy and love and happiness filling the space between the snow in the sky and the snow on the ground.

Even if it all only lasted six minutes. It took twenty two minutes to get ready. From the layers (and layers) of clothes to the snow pants and jackets and hats and mittens and boots, it was quite the process. But even though it took more than three times as long to prepare for the big backyard outing as it did to actually enjoy it, waiting was only part of the fun.

Joy. From the ground up, it doesn’t have to last any longer than a snowflake that melts the instant it meets a person’s skin. Because it lives on in our hearts.

 

 

 

 

Smiling Eyes January 24, 2015

I didn’t mean it. I couldn’t help it. I don’t know why it happened. And I’m sorry now.

I did a terrible thing last night. I know I can’t take it back, but I certainly wish I could. It was bath time, which I’ve recently shared has become something of an event around the halls of my forever home. It involves the nakie baby run down the hallway to the bathroom where bath time ensues before bedtime. It’s a whole lot of silliness that breeds joy, from the ground up. Morning love

Until last night. I don’t know what came over me really. One second, we were playing chase and the next minute he had little pink lines running down either side of his body. From me.

It’s important to note that I would never intentionally hurt him. Ever since the day he came home from the hospital all those months ago, I vowed to protect and love him as my own. That’s why I’ve survived the tail yanking, fur pulling and occasional eye gouging that has ensued with him since he figured out he loves me too.

So when I jumped on top of him as he journeyed down the hallway to the bathroom last night, I don’t know what got into me. But that didn’t matter. That doesn’t matter. Because those little pink lines running from his tummy to his calves on either side of his little man body were my fault.

My paws didn’t break skin. And he didn’t cry. But that doesn’t change the fact that I hurt my little person. We all went about the routine as usual, but I thought about it a lot afterward.

It’s terrible that it happened. I wish I could take it back. But sometimes you just can’t. Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes we say and do things that hurt those we love. Intentions aside, the pain is real.

Fortunately for me so is forgiveness. After the initial disappointment from both of my beloved forever parents wore off, it was like nothing ever happened. And when Carter saw me for the first time when he woke up this morning, his face lit up just like it always does. “Doggie,” he said, with smiling eyes. And all was right in the world.

 

All Over Again December 29, 2014

Everything about it felt a bit like deja vu to me. There was cooking and dancing and silliness and it all reminded me of something I’ve seen dozens of times before. It’s just been a while.

For some time now mom does the cooking. Or dad. But it rarely happens that they cook together like they did tonight. It was nothing fancy either. Just a pretty standard sampling of spaghetti with semi-homemade meat sauce, peas and garlic bread. The music in the background was a throwback to a few years ago too, including some old favorites by “Coldplay.” As they cooked, dear baby Carter happily feasted on a pear. And I watched, as I do, as joy from the ground up came to life in my kitchen.Good Life

This is not to say there is anything wrong with the present. There is a lot to celebrate about even the relatively mundane things about daily life in my forever home. But sometimes there’s nothing like a glimpse of the past to bring the present into focus.

Paying homage to where we came from can have that effect, I’ve found. Though anyone’s past might be marred with negatives, finding the positives to embrace can make all the difference in living joy in your daily life. There’s plenty about my past I could let haunt me, but I choose to celebrate the happy things instead. Family Time Please

Like the feeling of deja vu I had today. It was in moment when mom and dad danced around the kitchen without even meaning to as they teamed up to make the perfectly seasoned pasta sauce. It was in the moment when One Republic’s “Good Life” came on the music player and they reminisced about the time mom caught dad swinging Carter around the living room to the lyrics a few months ago. It was in the kiss they thought no one saw.

“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The past is not a place I’d like to live, but it certainly serves a purpose as far as I’m concerned. Because really it’s what we do with it that matters.