Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

It’s Just Stuff November 1, 2014

I don’t have much to my name. Well, technically, I don’t have anything to my name since it all really belongs to my people. They purchased all my toys, and my food and my treats. They pay for the water I drink. So I suppose you could say I have no worldly possessions. And you know what? I’m okay with that.

I got to thinking about this today after what I thought was a pretty efficient trip outside. It has gotten rather chilly around here in recent days as winter begins to peak its way into our lives, so my long and luxurious naps in the sunshine of spring, summer and fall have drawn to an end. Dreaming a little dream

When I went outside to take care of business, there was nothing different in the kitchen. When I came back in a few minutes later, that was far from the case. There were 10 bags stuffed to the brim with mom’s clothes. I should probably preface this by saying that clothes are not something lacking for my dear forever mom. She has dressers scattered throughout the house, in addition to the one in the bedroom where her closet is full. And then there’s the spare bedroom closet, which may or may not contain an entire second wardrobe.

The problem is I think she has a hard time letting go. That’s the sweater she wore on her first date with dad. That was the suit she wore when she nailed the big interview. That was the dress she wore to a good friend’s wedding.

All of that ended today, at least for the 15 minutes or so I was outside. That’s all it took for her to put aside most of the memories and fill those bags up to take to donate to a local resale shop. Thanks for supporting our mission, they will say to her as she donates hundreds of dollars of skirts, dresses, dress suits and tops. And, at least for today, I think she will feel good about her decision.

I know I would. I don’t have anything to my name and I’m okay with that. Ultimately, it is all just stuff. And you can’t take it with you. She still has her memories. No one can take that away. Nor can anyone take away my nonexistent worldly possessions. Which is fine by me because I have everything I need. I have a roof over my head, food in my dish and a family who loves me. What more could I ask for?


God Will Provide April 17, 2014

I certainly didn’t want to be the one to say it. Which is a good thing because I physically can’t. But dad can. Yet I know he never would even if maybe he should. Or maybe he would and just has opted not to. Yet.

Well today fate intervened. It made it possible for neither of us to say the thing we’ve both been thinking but couldn’t say. Mom’s wardrobe needed a boost. There, now I’ve officially said it. And please don’t misunderstand – I mean no disrespect. My dear forever mom has always been trendy as far as I can tell. I have absolutely no expertise in the area of people fashion, but I know she generally kept up with the trends.

Yet over the last year and a half or so I’ve noticed she started caring a lot more about others than herself. The bags filled with things for me were gradually replaced with things for my dear little Carter, and the bags filled with things for herself became few and far between. Just the other day, she and dad came home from what appeared to be a shopping excursion with a whole bunch of new clothes for Carter. Think with the Heart

I find it the slightest bit infuriating since I know how quickly he is growing out of things, but I digress. Because today fate intervened. My mom had a friend over to spend some time with baby Carter, and that friend came bearing gifts. I could tell she didn’t think they were anything special. But to my mom they were gold. All kinds of beautiful sweaters and shirts that I know she never would have bought for herself under our current circumstances.

They were headed for a donation to the thrift store, but instead ended up in mom’s closet. She took every one, and she seems downright giddy about it. All of this made me realize when it comes to people fashion I know nothing. And that’s okay.

Because today I saw what matters. I didn’t want to be the one to say it. And neither did dad. But now, because of the generosity of a friend, we don’t have to. And maybe we won’t have to worry about it again. Because I think mom got another present along with the recycled clothes today.

I think she realized its important not to lose yourself. And, perhaps more importantly, it’s okay if you do every now and then. Because these things have a way of working themselves out. God will provide, as they say. And – in so many ways – they are right.


So Many Choices February 19, 2014

It’s pretty obvious to me. Every morning I get the same thing for breakfast. Every night I get the same thing for dinner. And I’m not going to lie – it’s pretty tasty. Certainly not as delicious as the my favorite dog treats and raw hide bones. And maybe not quite as delectable as the occasional nibble of bacon, salami or peanut butter. But it’s definitely tasty.

So you can imagine my confusion at the frequency at which my forever people debate what to have to eat. In or out? Fancy or simple? Healthy or naughty? It’s all gibberish to me. And don’t get me started on what happens next when mom can’t decide what to wear. Though it is helped (a bit) by the previous questions, it’s never easy. Then there’s the shoes. And the jewelry. So many choices. So Many Choices

Indecisiveness has a hold on us around the Schmidt house and it drives me crazy sometimes. It’s more powerful than it sounds to be sure. It might not seem like a big deal, but (like anything) it always is a bigger deal than it seems. Not to mention the times when it stirs itself into a disagreement. All over something so silly as which pair of shoes looks better with a certain set of pants, which make up an outfit that may or may not be too dressy for the dinner destination of choice. It’s exhausting.

And I’m not even the one stressing out about these things. I’m just observing. I can’t imagine what it would be like to get caught up in the business of making decisions. From the ground up, I would much rather save all that emotional energy and apply it toward something useful. Like figuring out a way to translate dog thoughts into people words so I could tell my people to make a decision already. And so I could be there to support them when it ends up being the wrong one.

Because it seems pretty obvious to me. Certainly it’s not always as simple as what to eat for dinner. But when there are so many choices, sometimes the most obvious one starts at the beginning. It starts with the choice to decide.


My Two (Fashion) Cents July 18, 2013

It startled me at first. There I was, minding my own business, when someone else’s business looked me directly in the eye. There she was, the most beautiful West Highland Terrier I’d ever seen, all dressed up. Literally. She was walking down the street in a dress that matched her collar that matched her scarf that matched her visor. Yes, you read that right. She was wearing a visor obviously made special for a small dog, as it had teeny tiny holes for her ears to peak through. Our eyes met and she radiated this powerful positive energy that led me to believe she was incredibly happy to be waltzing down Antoine Avenue covered in matching pink fabrics.

It didn’t make any sense to me at all. I guess it would be plausible for a dog to wear clothes to keep warm, but it was a beautiful 70 degree day. There is no need for extra layers upon an already warm fur coat. But I don’t think it was a coincidence that I happened to be living with Tiger (the black lab) and his litter of puppies. They took me in as part of the family after I misjudged Tiger as the big, bad dog in the neighborhood. (When in reality, he was gruff and pushy because he was a single dad trying to provide for his family).

I learned a thing or two about the judgment trap from my experience with Tiger. First impressions aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Its never fair to judge a book by its cover. So why would it be fair to judge a dog by its clothes? Fashion is an art form, and no form of self expression should be off-limits for us canines. (Or our people for that matter). Donning the Green

I say this now, as the proud owner of a small assortment of doggie sweaters, T-shirts, and turtlenecks. I occasionally sport a timepiece people call a watch. I even have a classy blue Body Glove swimsuit top should I ever feel the need to don it. I say this as a dog who now feels naked without my collar, lost without my identity. I say this as a believer in all things artistic. All things joyful. All things alive.

Next to my collar, my favorite animal accessory is my green scarf. It was a gift from my dog groomer Mary, who gave it to me at about the same time I started this blog. It’s threadbare, dirty, and falling apart so mom doesn’t let me wear it anymore. But it wears itself on my heart. Symbolically speaking, green is a color of renewal. Rebirth. Life.

I get it now. It’s not about matching pink outfits or visors with holes for doggie ears to poke through. It’s not about how many collars you have or whether you have that sweater in enough color variations. Sweaters, T-shirts, and timepieces aside, a the art of self-expression never goes out of style. “Fashion fades,” as fashion icon Coco Chanel put it, “only style remains the same.”

To read the story of how I met and befriended Tiger: http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/03/14/forget-first-impressions/