Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

To Have Faith April 1, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:29 pm
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It’s one of those things when you don’t even know what to say. All roads point to everything not good. There is nothing positive. No silver lining. And there is nothing anyone can do about it. Crisis. From the ground up, it’s not my strong suit. Think with the Heart

Tonight it’s happening to a close friend of the family. Someone close to my heart is struggling with a very emotionally challenging situation that is making her question everything. Which makes my heart ache. Because I wish I could intervene. I wish I could step in and make it all better somehow. Yet I know I can’t. In fact, if watching people as long as I have has taught me anything, usually you make it worse when you try.

So I do what I can do. I listen. I love. And I pray. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

“The world is a crazy, beautiful, ugly complicated place, and it keeps moving on from crisis to strangeness to beauty to weirdness to tragedy,” suggested American journalist David Remnick.

Most days I believe in the dichotomy of the world around us, though I simultaneously choose to embrace joy and cast aside negativity. Yet I also know and respect that is not always how life is. There are ups and downs and good times and bad times, but I think that’s where the grey area stops and black and white begins.

Because you can’t have one without the other. Life balances out, naturally, often without any thanks to what we do or don’t do. God works it out, just as He intended, and just as He planned.

I know this knowledge may not help in the moment. Not in the crazy awful grizzly moments when you don’t know what to say. It may seem like all roads point to everything not good and there is nothing positive and no silver lining. But it’s not up to us in those cases to find any of that. It will find us.

Because it’s in these moments, in the midst of crisis, when it’s most important to have faith.

So tonight I pray.

 

 

A Lot Like Love February 13, 2015

It’s one of those things I’m glad us canines never have to worry about. We are what we are, and (other than our breed, I suppose) it really is as simple as that. We don’t have labels for things. Not like people with their relationship statuses anyway.

Single. Widowed. Divorced. Married. It’s complicated.

Indeed it is complicated, and not in a good way. Because in my mind there is something that unites all of these labels together in spite of society’s attempts to identify separate groups. Love. From the ground up, I find it to be a constantly evolving emotion that truly knows no bounds. Nor does it fit perfectly into any one of those boxes.

Around here, I saw this brought to life today in some intriguingly interesting ways. My dear forever mom worked mostly from home today, which means Carter and I got to enjoy a little extra time with her than usual. I watched as she put on her Energizer bunny hat, seeming determined to get some serious work done around here. When she wasn’t taking care of Carter, she was working. And when she wasn’t working, she was cleaning. Kisses

It probably doesn’t sound like much, but I could tell this particular round of chores had a special motive for her. My suspicions were confirmed when she (as she does quite often) explained to Carter and I what she was up to. Her goal was to get chores done today so her and my dear forever dad wouldn’t have to worry about them over the weekend. It was her little way, in addition to the gift and card she got him for Valentine’s Day tomorrow, to show her love.

So when the doorbell rang this afternoon, she was actually a bit irritated at first. How dare whoever is at the door interrupt her in while she was in the midst of her love-driven cleaning/organizing/working rampage? The tears came when she opened the door and saw what awaited her outside. Flowers. From dad, Carter and I.

And so we showed our love for mom in a slightly less practical way. (Though I will admit it was dad who took the lead with the idea).

Watching all of this happen reminded me of some pretty important features about this thing called love. It doesn’t have to fit into a box. Whether you’re single or have been married for 75 years, it finds its way into life in moments like these. As it should, I feel, for anyone you care about.

So tomorrow, as we in America pause to reflect on all things love, I’ve decided to stop to take stock of all of the loved ones in my life. Not just my forever family, but my extended families and friends and those I haven’t seen in a while and you out there in the blogosphere. I might not be able to show you with chores (or flowers), but believe me when I say from the bottom of my little doggie heart: I love you.

 

Just A Little Time February 8, 2015

It doesn’t take much. An hour, or even a few short minutes seem to do the trick. It can’t be doing something for work either. It has to be something at least semi-spontaneous or fun. Like a quick coffee or lunch date. Or a walk around the mall. Or even grocery shopping. Sometimes a momma needs just a little time away. All Smiles

I used to see it as an insult, not just for me but for dear baby Carter and dad too. Like what do we all do that is so tremendously awful that we drive her to a place she feels like she needs to escape? Recently I’ve realized that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Because before there was Carter and before there was me and before there was dad, there was mom. She had friends and family then, sure. But she decided things like what she wanted for lunch with little-to-no struggle. It was not a decision she was making with a family in mind, but rather simply for herself.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think she wants to go back to that place in her life. I know she loves me and dad and Carter bigger than the sky. (She even says so out loud from time to time). That doesn’t change the fact that she, like any other person, occasionally needs a moment to recollect herself. To hit the proverbial reset button if you will.

It happened today for a bit with aunt Morgan and later with a close friend of hers. I’m not sure what she did with each of them, but something kind of special happened when she returned from her second outing. She came home with a big smile on her face and wasn’t in the house more than five minutes when it happened.

She gathered up “her boys” (as she calls us sometimes) and said “I love my little family.”

It’s not that she didn’t love us before she left. But something about being away that little bit of time (I think it was a whole hour) focused her heart in a way few other things can. That’s a little time well spent in my mind.

 

The Best of Friends February 7, 2015

I may be a bit biased in saying so, and it might not be that popular an opinion. But for the most part I think people friendships are a bit overrated. There, I said it. Now let me explain.

I’ve always been a believer in a family favorite quote to “love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe.” Life has taught me these things. And as a canine, I feel like we are born with an innate desire to do things that have earned us that famous title of man’s best friendThrowback to my first few days at my forever home

We are loyal. We love unconditionally. And we always listen quietly with a completely open heart. If we are lucky enough to be welcomed into a forever home, those people become our world. It’s that simple.

Maybe that’s the problem I’ve found so frequently with interpersonal relationships I observe. They’re never simple.

They’re messy and complicated and sometimes people aren’t loyal. Sometimes people don’t love unconditionally. Sometimes people would much rather be heard than listen. Therein lies the fundamentally simple yet surprisingly complex problem that is human emotion in friendships.

Yet that is also what I’ve found makes them so special. Every relationship is unique, with its own story of origin and development. And it seems these imperfections are also what breathes life into friendships in the first place.

Today mom celebrated friendship. She had lunch with a couple of her closest friends, a rare occurrence since she and dad brought home dear baby Carter all those months ago. I could tell it brought her joy, not only from how happy she seemed when she made it home, but from how much I know she looked forward to it beforehand.

Something about time with good friends can do that. Just as I know sometimes things don’t always go as planned and feelings get hurt and things get complicated, friendship can rejuvenate the soul like few other things can.

It doesn’t change my biased and admittedly unpopular opinion that, for the most part, interpersonal friendships are overrated. Because in my heart I know I love my people more than any of their people friends do. But I also know the joy that warms my heart when they are happy. I know because they’re my best friends. It’s as simple as that.

 

 

Off The Leash December 18, 2014

I know it happens to people sometimes. Sure, it seems more frequent for my forever mom than my dad. But that doesn’t make me any less manly a dog when it happens to me. (Right?)

Sometimes we all have those days. You know the ones. Nothing in particular went wrong. Nothing broke. Everyone’s accounted for and in good health. But there’s an emotional emptiness. A deafening silence. A weakness in the heart. That was today for me. Me and My Gal

Days like this there is really only one thing I care about. Attention. From the ground up, I’ll take it in whatever form I can get it. I (almost) never resort to sassy behavior, generally relying much more on the gift of nonverbal seduction. The head nudge under the hand. The shameless leap onto a lap that is already crowded with work and an 11-month-old. The stubborn stare down. These are all tricks I’ve perfected over the years; ways I’ve determined are best in dealing with the general sense of neediness I feel sometimes.

Today I tried them all. I played my whole hand, especially with mom. I followed her all over the house. I sat unnecessarily close to mom’s feet as she baked cookies. I hopped on her lap the second she sat down, even at the kitchen table at dinnertime (this was a new one for me). Sometimes we doggies just need to feel the love.

So you can imagine the love I felt when the topic of dinner conversation turned to a package we received in the mail recently. It was marked “royal mail,” which is a pretty big deal around these parts, especially when most of the mail we get is bills. Instead of a bill, the package contained love from London. Inside were a lovely note and book from a very beloved and loyal blog friend, Ute.

It was the first I was hearing of the special delivery and I’m not going to lie. My heart melted with happiness and gratitude to have received such a lovely and thoughtful token from someone out there in the blogosphere. The best part about it is the book, “Off the Leash: A Dog’s Best Friend” contains humorous comics highlighting the truths of a dog’s life. From the poop dance to the frequent napping behavior to our bed hogging tendencies, cartoonist Rupert Fawcett nailed it on the head.

He even had several references to our esteemed and award-winning attention-seeking skills. Namely, the things we do on days like today when we (for no good reason) just need a little love.

I know everyone has days like that. When you really just need a hug. Or a smile, even if it’s from a complete stranger. Or, in my case, a random piece of mail from loved one in another country. Some days are like that. But today reminded me it’s okay to have days like this. Because, if you let people in, there will always be someone there to give you the hug you need. Even if it is from halfway across the globe.

Off the Leash

 

On Stupid Friendship November 24, 2014

I thought it was a terribly stupid idea. I’ll be honest and come right out and say that. In doing so, I’ll stand by dad on what mom insisted was the wrong side of the fence. Because to us it was a no-brainer. Today we had the first significant snow event of the winter and I know the havoc that wreaks on people.

Not necessarily the people I love, but people in general completely forget how to drive for the first few snow storms each year. Accidents clutter the freeways, cars fill the ditches, and sirens seem to run almost as rigorously as the snow plows and salt trucks. Snowy Dreaming

That’s why tonight was not a good time for people to come over to my forever home. Obviously mom did not know when she planned an event she referred to as “Friends-giving” that mother nature herself would try to put a damper on an otherwise festive evening. Nonetheless, she could have called it off several times on account of the weather, as dad and I thought she should.

She suggested it, sure. A couple of times. But no one agreed to postpone a dinner they had looked forward to since it was finalized on the schedule several weeks ago. Friends-giving was on, snow or no snow. And as it turned out I may have been wrong on this one.

There was turkey and potatoes and vegetables and rolls and all kinds of other goodness (which means there were table scraps for me). There was love, which has its way of seeping through all the concern about the weather. And there was joy. From the ground up, Friends-giving brought joy to life tonight.

As the night drew to a close and a few of mom’s dearest and closest friends packed up to leave, I knew for sure I hadn’t misjudged the situation. It’s never easy for me to admit wrongdoing, but I have decided not to budge on this one. Because I know dad and I were right. It was dangerous what they did tonight, braving the storm to come together. Yet that’s exactly what they did. They came together. And it was worth it. Everyone traveled safely after sharing a delicious meal with great people.

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson.

As we celebrate a holiday about pausing to count our blessings, I’ve paused tonight to count mine. What my dear mom (and her friends) did tonight was stupid, but I guess it’s okay to be stupid sometimes. Because they were in it together. And their hearts were in the right place. I suppose that’s what friendship is all about.

 

Even If It Hurts October 11, 2014

Unconditional love. From the ground up, this is certainly us four-legged friends understand and practice on a daily basis. But that doesn’t mean I always make easy sense of the things my people do for love. Sometimes it makes sense to me. Other times it doesn’t.

Buddy and ILet me preface this by saying that (of course) the needs and what is best for my forever people always comes first to me. They are my life. So when they put something on hold to help others, I will admit I have a tendency to get a bit defensive. (Some might say overprotective).

It happened again today, when mom went to some sort of gathering with dear baby Carter for a few hours this afternoon. She hasn’t been feeling well all week. She didn’t sleep well last night. Carter was crabby because he hadn’t gotten enough nap time in. It was not a good day to venture out to such a gathering. But alas, that did not stop her from making the journey to wherever anyway.

Because she cares. Because she loves the person throwing the party, and wanted to show it. Because it was the right thing to do.

It wasn’t without its own set of consequences, either. Mom isn’t feeling well tonight and Carter was incredibly unlike his usual happy-go-lucky self throughout the remainder of the day and evening.

But as darkness falls on our home tonight, I can say with honesty that I learned something about the unconditional love of people. From the ground up, it’s instinctual to us canines. We feel it in our bones. For people, I don’t think its that easy. Choices need to be made to show their love sometimes, and they’re not always convenient. But they are always worth it.

“The only way to have a friend is to be one,” suggested one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson. I do get a little defensive when I see my forever people put their own better judgment aside occasionally in the name of helping a friend. I think I’ve had it all wrong. Being a friend is what I do. How can I fault them for doing the same?

 

I’ll Be Missing You September 24, 2014

It sounded so silly when I heard it out loud. Because when it comes to routine, I’m a number one fan. I think a lot of other four-legged friends would agree that structure is the way to go. But today I heard mom say something that confused me at first.

She was talking with dad about how it is possible for routine to get in the way of relationships. Habits, and all they encompass, can sometimes be a bad thing. At the root of her concern was mention of the idea that you can see someone frequently and still miss them. There are a variety of contributing factors to the aforementioned breakdown in communication, and not all of them are bad. 

Take, for instance, my mom and her sister (fondly known as Aunt Morgan). Since I’ve been part of this family, mom and Morgan have spent a lot of time apart, while Morgan lived in a different part of the state. That changed about a year ago, when she moved back to town into an apartment a mere five minutes or so away from my forever home. And when dear baby Carter was born, she was our biggest source of support from day one. She brought to life the idea of being there for someone (or in our case someones), spending countless hours caring for Carter while mom caught up on housework, ran errands, or snuck in a quick nap.

To this day, she is over here a few days a week, albeit not for extended periods of time, but her presence is welcome. Yet, while there is no absence of presence, mom told dad today that she misses her.

It sounded so silly when I heard it out loud. It didn’t make sense to me at first. But the more I thought about it, the more alive the idea became. I think it is entirely possible to get so caught up in routine and schedules and errands and chores that you can end up missing everything a relationship has to offer. Like companionship, ridiculous laughter, and all kinds of other shenanigans that breathe life into the structure. I get it now.

And now that it makes sense to me, I decided to recommit to the relationships in my life. To respecting routine, but not letting it get in the way what really matters. Relationships. From the ground up, they are the world’s most complex puzzle. But I’ll figure it all out someday, I promise.

 

The Walk of Friendship July 22, 2014

I’m not ashamed to admit it. After all, everyone has their flaws, right? Mine are few and far between (of course), but I do have them like anyone else. One of them finds its home in one of my very favorite activities: the walk.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a quick jaunt around the block or a hike on a beautiful mountain trail. That obedience school business of walking alongside my forever mom or dad? Forget about it. It’s just one of those things I haven’t quite mastered and I would be lying if I said I wanted to because I don’t. I like feeling (somewhat) free to smell and investigate and learn and meet new animals and their people. It’s nothing against my walker at the time. These are the things that bring a walk to life in my opinion.
But today I got to thinking about it within the psychological construct of friendship. Mom and dad and dear baby Carter left for a few hours tonight to go see some friends they haven’t seen much of since mom changed jobs a few months back. These are all good friends who my mom loves and I love by proxy. They have all come and gone as Carter was a newborn and now an infant. But time and distance has made it harder to get together recently. Until tonight.Friends
Tonight all they got together and caught up and smiled and laughed. (I only wished I’d been there to see it (not only because I love seeing my people happy, but also because I miss these people). Instead, I heard the evening recapped upon their return home, which was (almost) as good as being there in doggie person. Because there was joy in friendship tonight.
It’s the kind of friendship French-Algerian philosopher Albert Camus wrote of when he said “don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
I’m happy for my people they have friends who walk beside them. Even when they fall behind or run ahead, they all catch up from time to time. And those are the moments that make me think. Maybe I’ve been going about the whole walk thing the wrong way. Dogs are a man’s best friend after all. It might be time to make a change. In the meantime, though, I will give thanks for friendship. From the ground up, it really is a sparkplug for joy.
 

A Semi-Charmed Life July 9, 2014

I know it probably seems pretty obvious to some people. But I think there is this common misconception about the expression of feelings that too frequently plagues relationships. I don’t think the nature of the relationship matters. Mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, lifelong friends. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well you think you know someone because ultimately you don’t know them as well as you know yourself. Hammock

I think that’s why it’s one of those things that too frequently gets lost in the shuffle. Yet I see it happen all the time. A message that might seem small, insignificant or redundant just sometimes needs to be received. You’re beautiful. I love you. I’m proud of you. Thank you. From the ground up, these are among the things I think need to be said (and meant) much more frequently than they are. Great job on that. I’m happy. You are a great dad/mom/wife/sister/brother/friend. I appreciate that you are in my life. Sometimes I think a person doesn’t even know how much he or she needs to receive these messages until it actually happens.

Take today, for instance. For the most part, it was like any other day since dear baby Carter was born. Mom and dad followed the same routine. Carter ate, played, napped and ate again. Mom wrote. Dad worked. But there was this moment, this one beautiful moment as mom refilled the bird feeders and dad watered the garden when it happened. They both stopped at the same time. They both paused. Joy. From the ground up, it happened in that moment, not just because they paused. Joy came to life in that moment because they said it out loud.

“I’m so happy,” mom said.

“Me too,” dad replied.

Then they smiled and both resumed their aforementioned duties in our backyard paradise.

I know it was probably the shortest conversation either of them had today, but I can promise you it was much more important than anything else that happened throughout the day. That’s the thing when something seems obvious – sometimes that makes it a lot easier to let slip through the cracks. But life is not a given. Moments are fleeting. And joy is in life’s little reminders.