Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Lesson In Sacrifice December 23, 2013

Disgruntled, disheveled and exhausted. Or in other words crabby. That’s how mom came home today from that place called work. Apparently her mood was reflective of the majority of the folks with whom she came into contact today. People who wanted things done. Now. Unless yesterday is possible, in which case they would prefer that.

The truth is, on a day like today, you are only one person who can really only do one thing: your best. I got the impression that’s what she did, but it sure took its toll on her emotions. She looked like she could cry the moment she walked in the door. And my keen attentiveness to such things informs me this would most definitely not have been tears of joy.

Watching and waitingThat’s when it happened. Just as she came through the door, dad stepped up to the plate. He took one for the team. I was ready with all my usual tactics for brining joy into a room and dad beat me to it. He swept her away to some place immediately upon her arrival home and when they returned they were laughing. No more almost tears. It was really something to see.

What mom doesn’t know is dad had a rough day too. He didn’t sleep much last night either. He’s overcome with worry of his own about all things pregnancy and labor and baby related. I’ve even been guilty of forgetting this in the last nine months. But none of that mattered in those crucial moments when mom got home. He pushed everything he was feeling aside to bring joy to mom.

I never really have to do such things. Sure, I worry and have my own things that evoke fear and stress. But for me, bringing joy to the lives of others rarely (if ever) involves sacrifice. The way I see it its ingrained in me as my work in my forever home. Except it’s not work because I love it so much. It’s part of what I’m meant to do.

Dad, on the other hand, definitely sacrificed his own thoughts and emotions to support mom tonight. And I’m proud of him. “If you want to be loved, be lovable,” suggested ancient Roman poet Ovid. Mom certainly wasn’t lovable upon returning home from that place called work today. Regardless of the reasons, she was an emotional wreck. But dad loves and cared for her anyway. And it worked. That’s the thing about selflessness – it tends to do the trick every time.

 

Can’t Take Me With You December 12, 2013

Sleep has become a hot ticket item in the Schmidt house lately. The grunts and groans mom makes have increased in frequency and intensity. Something called indigestion has taken over mom’s life (or so she says). And it all has me a little bit jumpy.

Which way to the hospital?Until today. Today mom and dad went to that place called the doctor and got some good news. The baby is not in mom’s ribs anymore! In fact, my future little person has moved down into a position that is apparently quite safe for delivery.

They were talking in a bunch of numbers (something about centimeters and percentages and measurements) but it’s all Greek to me. What I gathered from the mood was this was all good news. So I should have been thrilled. Instead I felt a little betrayed.

Earlier today I wandered my way into the bag for the hospital. The good news is it is all packed up and ready to go. The bad news is there’s no room for me to be in it. I wouldn’t expect to be because of safety issues, but I realized today that’s not the real problem. The real problem is there is no room for me at the hospital either. No doggies allowed. How am I supposed to protect mom and the little person (and, let’s be honest, dad) if I am stuck at home? They rescued me. They are my people. I would be lost without them.

All of this sent me into what I guess you could call a doggie panic attack this afternoon while I waited for my people to return from the doctor. It was the closest I’ve ever come to doing something naughty (mom did leave those shoes by the back door that would have been mighty tasty). But I resisted the urge and I am so glad I did. Because when they returned with all of this good news I realized there will be no shortage of joy when they leave me behind to go to that hospital place.

And it wasn’t too long after they finished reminiscing about how soon everything will change that I saw it. A picture of me had made it’s way into the overnight bag. I don’t know how I’d missed it earlier. There I was in all my goofy glory, smiling at nothing in particular. And I felt relieved. Because I might not be able to accompany them, but I will certainly be there in spirit.

 

Car Ride To Nowhere September 23, 2013

I went on a car ride to nowhere today. Well, it wasn’t exactly nowhere. It was to a place called Best Buy to get some kind of gadget I don’t understand. Dogs aren’t allowed inside, so I can’t say it is one of my favorite people stores (like Petco and Pet World, for example). And I didn’t get out of the car at all. Loving Life

But that didn’t really matter to me. What mattered was the context of my outing to nowhere: the company I kept. It was a random car ride on what I’ve come to recognize as a weeknight and (gasp) it was dad’s idea to have me come along. This is normal for mom (who regularly brings me along on those things called errands) but not for dad.

Mom frequently brings me along as we make our way from parking lot to parking lot. Not dad. He gets anxious when I voice my excitement about wherever we’re going (usually in the context of a whine or whimper). Not tonight. Tonight he wanted me by his side. He wanted his little copilot as he occasionally calls me when mom’s not around.

To be honest, it didn’t really matter to me where we went. It never does. But tonight was special to me even though we didn’t go to the park. Or the pet store. Or to see Mary the groomer (even though I’m overdue for a trim). Tonight we didn’t go anywhere in particular as far as I’m concerned. Best Buy doesn’t count since I can’t go inside and they apparently don’t sell anything for dogs there. In spite of that, it was a pretty great ride. It occurred to me as I waited patiently in the driver’s seat while dad was in the store. Even when you’re going nowhere, you really are going somewhere if you’re with the right person.

It brought to mind the thoughts of American sideshow performer Elizabeth Green, who once suggested “sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people.”

I’m blessed enough that regular car rides are a fairly routine luxury for me. It’s nice when we end up somewhere like the dog park or the groomer, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter where we end up. Even if its at that Best Buy place where they don’t even sell dog toys (what kind of store with that many gadgets doesn’t carry dog toys?). Even if I don’t get out of the car at all. It doesn’t matter where we’re going nearly as much as who we’re with along the way.

 

Battle Baby Bump Royale September 10, 2013

There’s nothing I can do about it. And that’s straight from the mouth of your resident doggie optimist. All I can say is poor dad. There’s nothing he can do about it either, and yet I’d say he’s got it a lot worse than I do. He can’t win either.

Battle baby bump royale has commenced in the Schmidt household. And it isn’t pretty. CORRECTION: the emotions aren’t pretty (that is exactly the kind of comment that would throw dad to the dog house right quick). We all knew it would happen eventually. And at 22 weeks along, I’m honestly kind of surprised it didn’t happen sooner. But now that it’s here? It’s like world war three is happening right there in my mom’s closet.Feeling Thoughtful

Nothing fits right, which is uncomfortable, which causes frustration, which causes tension, which causes friction. It’s the snowball of doom. The next thing you know there are tears involved (and not the joyful kind). It’s a bloody awful thing to witness, mostly because I know dad and I both favor the popular opinion that pregnant women and their baby bumps are to be embraced. Not sucked, tucked, and squeezed into all sorts of uncomfortable looking elastic contraptions.

This all came to the surface a few days ago when mom couldn’t figure out what to wear for a Friday night on the town. Like most women (sorry ladies, you know it’s true), it’s not unusual for her to spend a great deal of time picking out the perfect outfit. But I’ve noticed a trend lately that this not only takes longer, but it never seems to end well.

Except for the other night. Sure, it took the usual turn for the worse when mom threw aside the sixth outfit in disgust. But dad handled it like a champ. They left home for a while, and when they returned spirits were lifted and all seemed well again. They came home with a few bags filled with delicious smelling clothes I couldn’t wait to get my paws on.

It didn’t take much. Mom hardly has a whole new wardrobe. But it didn’t take me long to figure out it’s not about the clothes. Or the bags they come in. It’s about the patience. The unconditional love. The excitement of things being restored. I don’t know what dad said to mom on their car ride (since they ditched me at home) but whatever it was sure did the trick. There’s no winning for dad and I in this particular chapter of life. (It’s best for us to just keep our distance from the war zone). But there is peace in believing the words of Saint Augustine. “Patience is the companion of wisdom.”

 

A Piece of Art August 18, 2013

It’s a big question with a big answer. Which is funny to me because it’s coming in such a little package. But I’ve been hearing a lot about it around here lately, so I can say with some authority that it is very important to my parents to make the right decision. There’s just one thing I’m not understanding. Call me a simpleton, but hasn’t the sex of the baby pretty much been figured out since he or she was conceived? Sure, the identifiable organs only formed recently, but it’s been a little person boy or little person girl all along. Decisions, Decisions

So what’s the big deal? They cannot seem to decide whether or not to find out the sex of the baby at the upcoming ultrasound. The funny thing is, I sometimes think I know them better than they know themselves and I think deep down they both wan to know. I feel like they’re both mentally counting down the days until they can find out. There will be no waiting until January 16 for these two.

Meanwhile, as the (allegedly) unbiased observer, I hear the points on either side of the decision. Mom doesn’t really like calling their future little person an it. Dad has thought from the beginning that it’s going to be a girl (mom’s not so sure). It would be nice for them to buy gender specific clothes and things for the nursery (formerly known as Wiley’s room, but I’ve made peace with this). Then there’s that one thing. That one little word that means so much. Surprise. This is the word that (I think) has (almost) won my mom over to the waiting side. God only gives us so many happy surprises in life, and this is one of them, as dad’s aunt told them.

Well, I’ve got a bone to pick with that. It’s a big question with a big answer. And it’s going to be a blessed surprise either way. But the way I see it, so many times the “right thing” is what is in our hearts, not in what people tell us. Besides, my (albeit romantic) little doggie heart has this theory about surprises. Sometimes life’s greatest gifts are a surprise regardless of the timing of delivery.

As French playwright Francoise Sagan said “art must take reality by surprise.” Well, I love surprises. And whether I found out soon or later – whether it is a boy or girl – this little person will be a piece of art to me.

 

Faith In the Future July 14, 2013

“Make the most of your regrets,” Henry David Thoreau once said. “Never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

Yesterday, I wrote about five things I would attempt to save if my house was burning down. Reflecting on the contradictory definitions a “spark,” I focused more on the fire than its aftermath. Its so easy to do in the heat of the moment. Why is it that in so many cases we don’t appreciate what we have until its gone?

Today, I realized all of the precious things I left behind. Practical things came to mind like my warm doggie bed and my Packer jersey. But I know those are replaceable. They’re just things.

Far more devastating are the memories lost in the ashes. I’ll never forget the first day my parents brought me home and let me explore my new house. All those hours spent playing fetch with Mrs. Prickles in the hallway. The first day mom let me come up on the bed. Money can’t buy back these memories.

I take a two-fold lesson from this experiment in thought. (See, there is always a silver lining).

1) Savor the small things. There are so many ways to lose sight of the importance of special moments in our lives. But there is a reason money can’t buy memories. Moments are priceless. There are groundbreaking days when major milestones make things easy to remember, but as Sarah Ban Breathnach points out in Simple Abundance “there is a lot of drudgery in most days.” These are the days we need to seek out joy in the small things.

2) Respect the past as preparation for the future. It’s all too easy to take things for granted. If we surrender to life’s simplicities and appreciate what we have on a daily basis, the future will be that much brighter. “I never regret anything,” says actress Drew Barrymore, “because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end.”

It is with my past in a special place in my heart that I find faith in the future. With faith as my fuel, I know my dreams will always be more exciting than my memories.

Today’s post is dedicated to Mandy Atkielski.

Eighteen-year-old Mandy entered doggie heaven yesterday. She will be missed.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Mandy

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Just Another Day July 6, 2013

Sleep. Eat. Play. Repeat. I realized it while I laid in the sun for who knows how long this afternoon. Some days in a dog’s life are utterly uneventful. There’s nothing spectacular happening around the house. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary in the backyard. No abnormal weather events or exciting visitors. No excursions out of the house. Just another day in a dog’s life.

Today I caught myself somewhat bitterly contemplating the possibilities, all of which seemed more exciting than the absolute nothing I was doing. I heard my forever parents discussing different ideas of things to do outside (some involving me, others not). Meanwhile my heart raced every time they thought they were sneaky spelling out w-a-l-k, as if I don’t know what that spells. (Sometimes it surprises me how little credit they give me in the smarts department.)

Feeling Sleepy On the Job

None of their well-intentioned plans came to pass. Instead, I half-watched half-slept through them doing various tasks around the house. Dusting, cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning the kitchen…didn’t they just do all this a few days ago?

Then it happened. Mom left dad and I alone to go to something called a concert with a friend of hers and the afternoon took a turn for adventure. Dad took me for a walk (which is even more exciting since that’s usually something I only do with mom), then we played catch outside, and some more in the house. Cuddle time came after that as we sat on the couch watching all the shows on the moving picture window mom doesn’t care for (mostly involving cars). It was a night to remember.

In the grand scheme of things, the night I had with dad was more of the same nothingness of the day. We didn’t do anything that spectacular (other than the walk which even I have to admit got pretty hot pretty fast), other than simply enjoying each other’s company. Some days are like that. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary happens. Instead it’s just par for the course. Just another day in a dog’s life. What a blessing that is! When I find myself feeling bitter about these moments of peace, I am going to remember today and embrace the possibilities that lie in what may be disguised as nothingness. Because as American singers Simon and Garfunkel put it, “I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.”

 

 

Empires of the Mind April 24, 2013

Mom, dad and I played around in the backyard together today. We all got dirty with mud, but we smiled and we laughed under the springy afternoon sun. It lasted about a half hour, but it was one of those half hours that remind you to be grateful to be alive.

I was grateful for the moments, but the recent loss of Rusty makes me stop and think. What would happen to these moments if I weren’t in them? I’m sure mom and dad would enjoy each other’s company, but I wouldn’t be there to interrupt. I wouldn’t be there to try to intercept the softball they were throwing back and forth. I wouldn’t be there to make them smile.

Don’t be silly, I told myself, they would be smiling without you here. While I know that’s true, I can’t bear the thought. It’s a funny feeling, to be sure. I certainly don’t wish them ill, but today when we were all happy together, I wondered a bit about what would happen when I wasn’t part of the playful picture.Happiness Captured

To especially the non-dog-lover/owner, it might sound silly, but I can tell how attached to me my mom is. She tells me she loves me more than enough to make up for the neglect and abuse of my past and I appreciate every single loving scratch, thoughtful comment, or unexpected (albeit occasionally lung-crushing) hug. Dad is a little more guarded (at least when mom’s around), but as I’ve said before, we have our moments when it’s just the two of us when I am certain his feelings for me are purely loving (whether he admits it aloud or not).

So today, when we were all playing together and they were both laughing like ninnies, it surprised me when I closed my eyes and saw something shocking. I wasn’t in the picture, but a dog that looked just like me was there in my place. Mom and dad were laughing, just like they did today, with this stranger dog. There were strange little people there too. A little boy and his younger sister, I would guess them to be eight- and four-years-old were there, laughing harder than I’d ever seen mom and dad laugh.

They were playing together, as a family, laughing and happy. My gut reaction was to moan and cry because I wasn’t part of this vision of the future. But that’s not true to the unconditional love I feel for my forever family. I do hope I get to meet these little people someday. I hope as well that I get to see them laugh like I did in my thoughts today.

I also know today was not the last time mom, dad and I will play around together in our backyard. I know it’s not the last time we’ll smile and laugh at each other as we get dirty with mud. I know it’s certainly not the last time I will take a moment’s pause to be grateful for moments like this in my life. But today was also a reminder of what it’s like to love unconditionally (as us dogs are so gifted at that).

“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind,” said the great political leader, artist, and writer Winston Churchill. Well, today I realized how much I hope the empire in my mind is reflected in the future whether or not I’m in it.

I realized it’s way too easy for me to feel betrayed, left behind and forgotten by images like what I saw in my head today. Well, I’ve never been one to take the easy road and I certainly don’t intend to start doing so now. Instead I choose to challenge myself to see the silver lining. Instead I see these images as a blessing of what’s to come. Instead I see the empire in my mind and realize how much I hope there is a dog just like me there to show the family I love more than life itself all the love I won’t be able to when I’m gone. Happiness like we had today will not stop when I’m gone if I have anything to say about it.

Related articles:

Dear Future Me – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/03/01/dear-future-me/

Pawprints in the Sand – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/04/22/pawprints-in-the-sand/

 

Daily Prompt: Apply Yourself Turning Fiasco into Fortune January 19, 2013

“No true fiasco ever began as a quest for mere adequacy. A motto of the British Special Air Force is: ‘Those who risk, win.’ A single green vine shoot is able to grow through cement. The Pacific Northwestern salmon beats itself bloody on it’s quest to travel hundreds of miles upstream against the current, with a single purpose, sex of course, but also… life.” This philosophical (yet comedic) end to the movie “Elizabethtown” is the foundation for my reflection today.

I don’t know if its the gritty storyline following the passing of the lead character’s father, or the fabulous score that weaves the story together, but the offbeat comedy is one of my favorite people movies. The story begins with epic failure, loss and sense of personal defeat, yet somehow (in spite of it all), the emotional journey of Drew Baylor ends in joy. Life, amidst constant challenge. He re-wrote the ending to his life story.

That’s a pretty powerful concept if you ask me. “What if you learn to stop the dramas and started to trust the flow of life and the goodness of Spirit,” Breathnach challenges in Simple Abundance. “Isn’t it possible that you could write new chapters in your life with happy endings?

I wasn’t always a believer in happy endings. The first two years of my life were filled with challenges to my spirit. It would have been easy to give up. It was much harder to try. To believe. To live. So I did as today’s daily prompt suggests: I applied myself.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/daily-prompt-apply-yourself/

Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you.

I made one of the toughest decisions that ended up changing my life forever. I decided to see the best in all things. It wasn’t easy at first. It was especially challenging when I was adopted by a family I immediately loved wholeheartedly, just to be ignored amidst the household of three other dogs, and ultimately returned to the humane society. As an instinctive lover of people, I will admit their rejection sent me into some pretty dark days. But I refused to write myself into a tragedy.

I hardly think it is a coincidence that a mere two weeks later I met my mom and dad and a week after that they took me to my forever home.

I’ve lived fiasco, but that was not the end to my story. Joy is my victory and my fortune.