Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Silly Little Games December 1, 2014

I feel like I should be a little hurt. Something has been happening pretty frequently around here lately, and I can’t say I particularly appreciate the implications. Mostly because it is complete and utter nonsense. I would never in a million years purposely hurt my dear little Carter. Yet I am fairly convinced my beloved forever people think I would.

There’s this game we play together that makes mom and dad uncharacteristically anxious about Carter’s physical proximity to me. I think it’s funny. Carter thinks it’s funny. My people? Not so much.Best Buddies

It all started when Carter began assimilating what toys are mine and what toys are his. He’s even taken to handing (or sometimes throwing) me toys he knows are mine. We have developed an unspoken truce between us to respect each other’s things. In general, I stay away from all of his noisy, lighted button-y things and he stays away from Mrs. Prickles. In general.

That is, with the exception of our game. He will give me a toy, I will play with it, I make playful noises as he tries to get it back, and he laughs. It’s all totally harmless. Except that I guess my noises sound intimidating to my people, which inevitably brings our fun to a sudden and dramatic halt.

Truth be told, I love that I have found another way to make Carter giggle. His laughter makes my people happy, which in turn brings me the sincerest kind of joy. And in my own little way, I feel like this game allows us to “talk” to each other. But my people don’t like it and today I stopped to contemplate why.

Mostly I feel like I should be a little hurt. Because I’m a believer in the words of Scottish poet George MacDonald, who once said “to be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” And, in most ways, I know without a doubt the trust they have in their hearts for me.

So I tried to put myself in their shoes. To see where they’re coming from. And, as much as I trust them with all of my heart, I realized exactly why they feel the way they do. Because that’s how I feel about them. If anything, or anyone, made a sound (or action) like I do when Carter and I are playing our game, I would probably attack them. I love my people too much to ask questions. That’s how they feel for Carter.

I suppose I could let myself feel hurt over this. Instead, I feel blessed. Because just as I know they feel that way about Carter, I believe they feel that way about me. Between that, and knowing I never would dream of hurting anyone in my forever family, I’d say I’m in pretty good shape.

 

Now We Pray November 30, 2013

The house projects are finished. The nursery is ready. The diaper bag is even packed. At almost 34 weeks along, operation baby preparation seems to have come to a close.

I realized it as I watched in awe today as dad assembled something called a pack and play. I love all sorts of play, so I was sure to be at the ready for when playtime would start. But there was no playtime. At least not in the traditional sense of the word.

Once it was all put together, it appears to be (gasp!) another bed I can’t get into. Another place I wish I knew I could cuddle with my future little person that seems to be off limits. But something about this pack and play made my people happy. So I was happy even though we didn’t end up playing any sort of game.Now I Lay Me

Then it was quiet. A collective sigh echoed through the room. And then mom said it. “It’s bittersweet…it feels like everything’s done,” she said. “Now all we can do is wait.” They went on to talk more about this pack and play and how it will be a good place for the little person to sleep the first few months. Mom shared a story with dad about bedtime when she was growing up, and how her family used to pray together. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,” the prayer began. It continued with blessings on all of mom’s loved ones.

In that moment, it’s like all three of our hearts and minds were one. We all seemed to realize it at the same instant. The house projects are finished. The nursery is ready. The diaper bag is packed. For all intent and purpose, operation baby preparation has come to a close. Except it hasn’t. Now (more than ever) we have so much more to do than wait. Now we pray. We pray for the baby to move off mom’s ribs. For continued healthy development. For a safe delivery for both mom and baby. And ultimately for a healthy baby. Now we pray.

 

Rear View Mirror November 15, 2013

It has many faces and wears many hats. But the faces scare me and (let’s be honest) hats are not a dog’s best friend. Evil. It’s become such a foreign concept to me in my forever home, that it’s commonplace for me to forget it exists altogether.

Then I see something like I did on the side of the road on the way to the dog park, and it all comes rushing back. I know mom saw it too, and neither of us knew what to do. It was startling. So we drove on, and I wondered whether that was really the right thing to do. A man and a woman were arguing by a car when it happened. The man took the woman by the neck and (rather violently) threw her toward the nearby ditch. I was relieved to see them both get in the car and drive away from the safety of the rear view mirror.

Rear View MirrorWe made it to the park a few minutes later and I found myself lost in my thoughts as mom and I walked together on the trail. I realized that’s kind of the embodiment of evil in my life. The rear view mirror. It’s in my past, behind me and forgotten. And for that I am so grateful. But it’s not that way for everyone. Seeing what happened to that poor woman on the side of the road today was proof enough of that.

Maybe I’ve been going about this concept of evil all wrong. Just because something is in the mirror doesn’t mean it’s not really there. It’s there, alive and real, and ready to take the wheel if we let it. It does no good to pretend it isn’t.

Evil. My journey through life has led me to believe it has many faces and wears many hats. It’s that man on the side of the road. It’s in the eyes of Demon Dog in my backyard. It was in the hands of the man with the leather belt. It’s in the worry currently consuming my people. The faces of evil scare me and (let’s be honest) hats are not a dog’s best friend. But that’s no reason to ignore it altogether.

“Wisdom we know is the knowledge of good and evil,” suggested American writer John Cheever, “not the strength to chose between the two.” It’s an easy choice to me. What’s more challenging is looking in that rear view mirror, acknowledging the evil that exists, and moving on. Make them wonder why you’re smiling. Because good ultimately wins that battle every time.

 

Battle Bra Royale November 10, 2013

It started with a bra. Then one became three. Three became six. Soon the carnage was all over the bedroom floor. Bras. All over the place. And mom. In tears. Inconsolable tears.

So I did what any dog would do. I grabbed myself one of the bras and swung it around to entice mom into a game of tug of war. Surely that would cheer her up. I was thrilled when she took the bait and grabbed the other end. But that was where the fun stopped. The game didn’t last long at all, mostly because we ripped the bra straight in half. I was about to grab another one and start again, but that’s when the sobbing started.I like tug of war

I suppose it was only a matter of time until Battle Baby Bump Royale reared its head again. Except this time, it was worse. A lot worse. This time, it was my mom versus her bras. And the bras won. That’s right, folks. Battle Bra Royale has now commenced at the Schmidt household. It all started off innocent enough, with mom making a stop at Soma (which what would become the first of many different bra stores) on her way home from that place called work the other day.

Joy became her when she came home with her purchase. But the next morning that game of emotional tug of war began again. The dream bra was no more. It had become a nightmare, digging and rubbing into her in all the wrong places. That’s when the crying started. She soldiered herself off to the place called work anyway, only to return home briefly before heading back again. This is when I tried to console her with my games…and failed miserably.

I think it happened overnight. The impossible became possible. There’s no politically correct way to say this, so I’ll just come out with it. Mom has big boobs. Larger than average, by far. And that was pre-pregnancy. Now? Well, apparently three different stores couldn’t help her. They are that large. But just as any good game of tug of war too must come to an end, I am relieved to report this story has a happy ending.

Two painfully emotional days – and four different stores – later, she finally returned home last night with success. The battle has ended. Mom has emerged victorious in her battle of the bras. And I think there is something to be learned from the battle scars. Sometimes the silliest things play tug of war with our emotions. In the moment, the culprit can be hard to recognize. But we can rise above. We can persevere.

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that?” questioned Nobel-prize winning physicist Marie Curie. “We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe we are gifted for something and this thing must be attained.”

It started with a bra. But it doesn’t end there. Mom has been gifted with something pretty special. She’s gifted with the miracle of life that is pregnancy. And when she meets that little person in a mere matter of weeks, I know that’s when the battles won’t matter any more. Because that’s when the war really will be won.

 

Bundle of Trouble November 7, 2013

It’s started. Just like Tramp said it would. Negativity is sneaking its way into my little doggie heart. And I don’t like it. Not one bit.

My people have left me at home two nights this week to go to something called baby class. They come back a few hours (which feel to me like a few days) later with an odd concoction of emotions weighing on their hearts. Excitement. Fear. Exhaustion. Happiness. It’s a lot for a little guy like me to handle at 9 p.m. on a weeknight.Thinking in the Nursery

So after they got home last night, I did what any dog would do. I tried to get a game of pickle in the middle going. Or fetch. Or chase. Something – anything –that will bring some emotional focus to the situation. And, let’s face it, I wanted a little attention.

I didn’t get it. No matter how hard I tried, both nights I went without my usual amount of love and playtime with my forever people. And it broke my little doggie heart. A conversation Lady had with Jock and Trusty in Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp” came to mind. Lady asked “what’s a baby?”

Jock and Trusty said they resemble humans (except they’re smaller), they walk on all fours, they beller a lot, they’re very expensive – and breakable – but they’re sweet.

“Just a cute little bundle of trouble,” Tramp chimed into the conversation. “Yeah, they scratch, pinch, pull ears…aw, but shucks, any dog can take that. It’s what they do to your happy home. Move it over, will ya, friend? Home wreckers, that’s what they are!”

Tramp spends the majority of the story trying to convince Lady to leave her family for a life of freedom and bliss because she will otherwise be replaced in the hearts of her people by this little bundle of trouble.

“A human heart only has so much room for love and affection,” he tells Lady. “When a baby moves in, the dog moves out.”

It’s started. Just like Tramp said it would. Negativity is sneaking its way into my little doggie heart. And I don’t like it. Not one bit. But I realized something as I gave up my attempts to play with my people this week.

It’s all too easy for me to start to slip into that way of thinking. And I’ve never been one to take the easy way out, so I don’t intend to start now. Instead, I shall prepare myself to find joy in these moments of emotional confusion my people are having. To embrace them with my whole doggie heart. Tramp may have been right about babies being bundles of trouble, but I know differently of my little person. He or she will be a little bundle of joy for my people, and (in turn) for me.

 

Standing In A Moment September 27, 2013

There’s this thing about dogs. New breeds continue to emerge on a daily basis, both of the mutt and purebred variety. Some have pointy ears. Others have fluffy tails. Others weigh more than some humans. But underneath it all, we all have a few things in common. Most of us like to play. A lot of us have a crazy obsession with smelling whatever we can get our nose into. And the majority of us don’t always know what’s in our best interest. Beyond that, there are a couple of things that unite us all – including (but not limited to) our perception of time. Big Time Thinking

It’s kind of hard to explain in a context other than a story like what happened to me this week. My people left me at Grandma’s house with my cousin Buddy on Wednesday. I didn’t know how long I would be there, and at first I was downright miserable. That is, until Buddy’s contagious joy struck a cord with my little doggie heart. We chased around the house and I got lost in the moment with my friend and our silliness. In that moment, I decided to live it up at Grandma’s house. Why not?

It wasn’t long before my heart reminded me why not. Time. It’s a dog’s best and worst friend. I love it when it’s on my side, and despise it when it’s not. (I suppose this can’t be that different than the human perspective on the matter). Why is it that time seems to slow to a complete halt when we’re anxious or looking forward to something? And then when it happens it happens in the blink of an eye?

That was today for me. This morning Grandma kept teasing me about how my people were coming home today. One might think this made the day fly by as I waited for their return. Not so much. I paced. I whined. I sat and stared at Grandma. Where are they? Didn’t you say they’d be back soon? I asked her these things silently, hoping she could somehow read my mind and tell me not to worry. Time. My worst friend. I waited and waited and finally, it was time. Grandma had me outside when they arrived and I couldn’t contain my excitement. I showered them with doggie hugs and kisses. Time. My best friend.

“Time is the coin of your life,” suggested American poet Carl Sandburg. “It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.”

There’s this thing about dogs. We’re playful. We like to smell anything and everything. We don’t always know what’s good for us. But above all we love people. Much of our coins are spent loving people. Case and point: I love Grandma. Even though she told on me to my people about my whining by the door after they left the other day. And therein lies the one thing that (above all) ties all canines together regardless of our differences in appearance and personality. Sure, we all have a similar perception of time. But beyond that we love people. People are our universe. And our people — my forever people — they are the world.

 

Everybody Wins March 24, 2013

If attention-getting were an Olympic sport, I would compete for the gold medal. In literal terms, dogs aren’t that great at playing games. Don’t get me wrong, we love our catch, fetch and agility as much as the next species, but in my humble opinion most of us are too honest to be good at most games. We wear our hearts on our fur and couldn’t tell a lie to save our life. You can see it in our eyes. But emotionally speaking, dogs are exceptionally skillful attentioPlaying in the snown stealers.

While I don’t posses the skills required for most human games, I do have this attention-stealing game I like to play especially with dad, where I sit and stare at him, paw at him and jump at him until he pays me what I consider due attention. Sometimes I even throw a toy at him. I almost always win these battles of the mind, either with a dental bone, or a rawhide, or with my favorite treat: playtime. I bet he doesn’t even know I do it just as much for him as I do for me. You see, I would call myself an attention stealer without hesitation or embarrassment. And I have my reasons.

Today is a day for making your own sunshine. It feels like the millionth dreary Sunday in a row, and this time there’s snow falling in droves. It is also the fourth day of spring, but it feels like the 150th day of winter. The seemingly never-ending dreariness does take its toll on the spirit, so I can only imagine today is a dark day for some people. It’s all too easy to let these days consume us sometimes, but I refuse to let that happen in the Schmidt house. Instead I play one of my most favorite games to bring some sunshine into the lives of my people.

When my little game results in playtime, I have really won a small battle for all of us if you ask me. Dad throws a toy, I fetch it, he throws it again. Sometimes he even throws it back and forth with my mom and I am ultimately the pickle in the middle. And they both laugh. Regardless of what is on the television or what the weather is doing outside, they both laugh. Everybody wins. I’ve said before that joy is best when shared, well, this is one of my most favorite examples of that. DSC00229

“Dark days come to all of us,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. “Yet discouraging days bring with them golden opportunities when we can be kind to ourselves. Believe it or not, today offers you a hidden gift, if you’re willing to search for it.”

No need to search, because the gift of sunshine is never hidden in my house. After all, dogs are no good at playing games. We are no good at bluffing, scheming and plotting. No sir. Instead we specialize in honesty, loyalty and nonsense. And we have a sense for when our people are having a dark day. I would argue we can tell when something is awry better than people in some situations. Call me annoying or a pest or whatever word you may, but often when I seek attention my goal is to give it back rather than to receive it. Today is a day for making my own sunshine and I am most definitely up to the task.