Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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.

 

 

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 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.”

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

I Can See The Birds March 4, 2015

They’re back. The winged beauties that fill the branches of trees throughout my backyard paradise during the spring, summer and fall months have arrived. I heard their chirps echo through the air this morning as I basked in a balmy 23-degree sunlight for a few minutes while I was outside. Pausing to smell the snowflakes

Perspective is a funny thing when it comes to weather around here. Though most people would consider 23-degrees far from balmy (and even Wisconsinites have been known to reach for the winter coats, hats and mittens when it first happens in October or November), it feels warm after another frigid winter like the one we’ve had. (Forget the winter coats, because it feels like spring!)

So my first thought when I heard the familiar banter between the sparrows and and finches was that it seems too early for them to be back. It may have been 23 degrees today, but it’s supposed to be mighty chilly again tomorrow. Not to mention the lingering inches of snow that still cover the ground.

But the second the those thoughts crossed my mind, I pushed them aside. Because in spite of my concern for their safety and well being, they are a sight for sore eyes. They are one of the first signs that spring is coming. Relief and renewal and rejuvenation are on their way. Soon the air will be warmer again, and dear baby Carter and I will resume our playtime silliness in the green grass of the backyard.

Only I know this year will be different. This year, spring means we are getting even closer to the arrival of little person no. 2, who is set to arrive in early June.

I’m not sure how that will change things for my outdoor plans, but I’m hopeful the bit of extra time mom will have at home with the new baby will mean a bit of extra time for all of us to enjoy the sunshine together.

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush,” suggested Wisconsin columnist Doug Larson. I don’t know much about wearing shoes. And I can’t whistle.

But I can see the birds. And I think that’s a pretty good sign of things to come.

 

Getting Back Up March 3, 2015

I honestly couldn’t handle it. I saw it happen. I heard the sound when it happened. And I knew crying would come next. So I did the cowardly thing and ran away to hide in the bedroom, because I just couldn’t stand to even find out what the aftermath of all that action was.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. My dear baby Carter was all over the place today, climbing things not meant to be climbed, ripping any form of paper he could get his hands on and running. So much running. Before

All of that came to a screeching halt when he was attempting to dismount one of his toys and take off in a full run in one fell swoop. He failed, whacking his head on the hardwood floor pretty good in the process. In the realm of his cries (I’ve come to know them all), it surprised me that this one seemed fairly well under control. And it honestly didn’t last nearly as long as I had thought it would.

I found out later he was also gushing blood from his mouth, where his fairly new set of teeth tore into his top and bottom lip. So you can imagine my surprise when the crying stopped a few minutes after it started. The terrible sound was replaced with the happy toddler babble that preceded the fall. That was a relief enough that I returned to the scene of the crime to check it out. All was well.

But in those moments after it happened, I ran. Mom couldn’t run. I know she was scared, and seeing the blood must have been terrible. I heard her and dad recapping what happened over dinner, and in that moment I felt a gush of pride over the parents they have become.

They both hated that it happened at all. And it was scary (especially for mom). Yet ultimately, they both realized it was probably way worse for them than it was for him. They don’t want anything bad to ever happen to their little boy. Obviously. In spite of all their best efforts, they were reminded today that it’s going to happen. He is going to fall down. And he’s going to get hurt. But it’s okay.

Because it’s getting back up that matters.

 

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.