Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The End of the Tunnel January 17, 2015

It reminds me a bit of when mom had her knee surgery. I got to spend a lot more time with her than usual as she recovered. The nights were long, and contained the occasional tearful cry at 3 a.m. that woke both dad and I up. That part was awful. But all the extra time with her was certainly the silver lining. As was hearing her tell me my snuggles helped her leg feel better. It’s kind of like that again.

Except this time, it’s my dear Aunt Morgan who is recovering. She had something called carpal tunnel surgery on her hands recently. Recovery has been far from easy for her, especially since the surgeries happened surprisingly close together, but it seems to me like the worst is definitely behind us now. Throwback Saturday

The best part is I can say so knowledgably because I’ve been fortunate enough to see it happen. I watched the faint twitch develop into a terrible inconvenience for her before the surgery. I watched her struggle to do a whole lot of anything for the first couple of weeks post-surgery, since her hands were bandaged fairly heavily. And I am happy to report I watched today as she picked up dear baby Carter (a few times) with no issue what-so-ever.

I’ve been fortunate enough to witness all of this first-paw because she’s been around my forever home a lot recently. And I’ve got to say, it bothers me when she points it out like it’s a bad thing. When she says she’s imposing or bothering us or intruding on our plans. Because she never is.

She’s a welcome presence in our forever home. We all think so. And you should see how happy Carter is to see her at any given moment. Beyond that, we all know this is a phase in life that will one day all-too-soon come to an end. So I don’t even listen to that nonsense she says about being around too much.

Instead, I embrace the moments of joy that happen when this segment of my forever family is all together. Like when she picked Carter up so many times today. That was special to me not just because of the love captured in their embrace, but because it demonstrates renewal coming full circle.

She got a fresh start with this surgery. And I know there were probably times when it seemed like the pain would never end. But it is. This too shall pass. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now and it’s a welcome sight.

 

The Truth About NYE December 31, 2014

Fancy dinners and parties and dresses and champagne. All of it is so beyond me if I’m being honest. Yet that’s what so many people will be embracing from all over the world today and tonight as we ring in the new year. There is all kinds of anticipation for this big night of refreshment and renewal and you’d probably think it’s something your resident doggie optimist would stand behind. You’d be wrong.

I actually would venture to say that this New Year’s Eve holiday is probably one of my very least favorite of those my beloved forever family chooses to celebrate. I never mind the leftover goodies from dinner (which they usually opt to make themselves at home). I definitely appreciate the extra hour or two of snuggles that happens as we all countdown to midnight. But ultimately I feel a bit like the day itself is entirely overrated.

That all changed a year ago. Dear baby Carter was born exactly a year ago today, on New Year’s Eve. I still don’t understand why I couldn’t have been there at the hospital to meet him right away, but that’s okay. I honestly had no idea the joy he would bring into our home. Into our lives.When You Wish

Beyond that, I realized as I reflected back on this year that is 2014, that he’s taught me some things about life. Perhaps most important on this eve of the new year is what he helped me figure out about this holiday. It happened every morning he woke up since the very first day he was here in our home. Rebirth. Renewal. Not every day was a good one, but that is exactly what tomorrow is for. A fresh start. A new beginning.

I think that’s what bothers me so much about this holiday. It’s not one day a year we should be celebrating life. It’s every day. Every day we wake is a blessing that should never go unnoticed. Even the challenging ones and the ones that make us wish we could go to sleep just so it can be tomorrow. Because tomorrow is indeed another day. New Year’s Day in our case. Here’s to a year filled with new beginnings.

 

A Healing Pain December 16, 2014

At first it was fairly subtle. A faint twitch here and there. Slightly less time on that Smartphone contraption. A few less pets than usual when she visited. From there it seemed to escalate at a surprisingly speedy pace. The twitching became more noticeable. The Smartphone was set aside more frequently. Almost no pets (but lots of verbal love) when she visited. Gratitude

It turns out my dear aunt Morgan has carpal tunnel. In both her hands. Her case seemed to worsen overnight to the point where I noticed her frequently shaking out her tingling hands to lessen the pain. I cringed when I overheard the stories she told my forever mom about waking up screaming in pain. No one I love should ever hurt like that.

Well, today is a new day for my dear aunt Morgan’s hands. A fresh start. Today marks the day of the first of two surgeries to repair her damaged wrists and, in doing so, restore her quality of life. So she can use her hands like a normal person again. I’ve missed those pets, after all.

Joking aside, it really pains me when someone I care about is hurting. Physically. Emotionally. Psychologically. Pain is not one of my favorite things. But if there’s something pain has taught me, it’s to not take anything for granted. Some things aren’t fixable with surgery or therapy or whatever other interventions are out there. And life has a way of working itself out.

Fortunately, many things are fixable. If all goes well, my dear aunt’s hands will be among them so there will be no more twitching and pain. Pets will be restored. The pain of the past will be replaced by a new pain, which I suppose is the only kind I don’t particularly mind. A healing pain. After watching first-paw something so subtle rapidly turn into something so terribly painful, take it from me. A healing pain is a good pain. Because as Gautama Buddha suggested “pain is inevitable in life, but suffering is optional.”

 

Up With The Birds July 14, 2014

It happens at the exact same time every day. 4:11 a.m. Whether there is a downpour of rain or the sun is shining, they are always there. Even when the snow flies, a few stick around. Birds. From the ground up, they are always there. At times I side with my mom and find them incredibly annoying. Like when they wake dear baby Carter up earlier than usual. Or my forever mom and dad for that matter. But, like most things, it’s which side of the coin you want to land on.Joy

Because at times, I side with my mom (she can’t make up her mind either) and find them incredibly calming. Peaceful even. I think that’s one of the reasons she has a newfound interest in bird watching in my backyard paradise. In addition to a bird bath or two, there are more feeders out than usual. And, unlike summers past, she has been diligent about keeping them filled to the brim with delicious concoctions of seed, including sunflower seeds that I occasionally snag from the ground by my favorite feeder in the far corner.

Today she was working from home over her lunch hour when it happened. It wasn’t anything that out of the ordinary. Yet there she sat on her favorite patio chair, typing away on that laptop of hers, shaded slightly by her happy orange umbrella (as she calls it) soaking up the sun with a mug of hot tea in hand. Carter was napping inside and I was curled in the shade up at her feet. It wasn’t much. A stranger would have missed it. But not me. She spotted the cardinal duo (male and female) that visits every day around the same time and sighed a big ole happy sigh that made my heart smile.

Sure, we as a family collectively curse those birds outside the windows when dear baby Carter wakes up before his normal time. Or when the chirping alone wakes my parents. But today I was reminded of what beauty is signified in the routine these dear birds have. It happens at the same time every day. 4.11 a.m. The weather doesn’t matter. The storms that rolled through yesterday are a thing of the past. Today is a new day. A fresh start. And that brings the sincerest sense of peace to my heart.

 

Wiley Schmidt: A Fortunate Accident? January 25, 2013

Tomorrow is such a powerful word. It is a promise of a fresh start on a new day. It is another chance to get caught up with that to-do list or start that project you always wanted to start when you could never find the time. It is a chance to make a difference in the lives of others, or finally put that dream to action. But ultimately, tomorrow is the devil’s playground for procrastination. What if there is no tomorrow?

Hillary Cooper once said “life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” I’ve been fortunate to have my fair share of breathtaking moments. The day I met my forever mom and dad, the day they took me home, and the day I realized how much they loved me all come to mind.

So today I embrace life by contemplating death. It might sound morbid, but I see the value in contemplating how one will be remembered when they are no longer among the living. How would I want to be remembered? The ancient Greeks asked one thing after a man died: did he have passion?

The Eulogy of Wiley Schmidt: A Fortunate Accident?

Wiley (Coyote) Schmidt was a pretty special dog. He was dearly loved by his adoptive mom and dad, as well as extended family and friends too plentiful to list. For this, he considered himself the luckiest dog in the world.

It wasn’t always that way for him. Separated from his birth mother too young, Wiley struggled to find acceptance and love from various foster homes. He lived on the streets, fought for food and shelter, and knew life without a loving home. He was resilient amidst life’s hurdles, and slowly learned to embrace the challenges as they became part of what made him unique.

His positive outlook on life started paying him dividends at the age of two, when his parents adopted him from the humane society. Life was a series of fortunate accidents for him after that.

After two years in his forever home, he started a little blog he hoped could touch some lives. Another year later, the scope of his aspiration to share his joy with the world spread beyond his wildest dreams. His mom helped him piece together a year of blog entries into his groundbreaking book. It was called Joy: From the Ground Up, and it became an instant hit with dog lovers all over the world.

He always dreamed big, but his dreams were never selfish. The ancient Greeks asked one thing after a man died: did he have passion? Wiley had passion for the greatest gift of all: life. He was the embodiment of joy, and shared it with whomever would accept it.

People say hindsight is 20/20. Wiley didn’t believe in that. Wiley said if we live life as it is supposed to be lived, there shouldn’t be hindsight. We should be looking forward. Our dreams should always be more exciting than our memories. He would want us all to remember that.

Rest in peace, Wiley. You (and your forever joy) will be missed.