Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

You Lose Some January 18, 2015

There are some pretty disappointed people in my neck of the woods tonight. High expectations, excitement and enthusiasm abounded this afternoon as our dear Green Bay Packers battled the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game. The mission? To make it to the Superbowl.

It was a close game, filled with its share of exciting moments and ups and downs. Going into halftime, it seemed like the Packers were destined for a win. But a whole lot of nervous pacing, nail biting, almost-heart attacks, and anxious eating later, it was all over. By no fault but their own, the Packers will not be making the journey to the proudest game in football this year. Instead, the season has ended. Game day love

I don’t know much about these things, but what I do know very well is the emotional atmosphere of my forever family. So its a little tough not to be sad with them as they mourn the loss of a good game and come to terms with the end of an entertaining season. But I’m staying strong this time around. I will not let the negative energy get to me. It stops here.

Instead, I can’t help but think about all the things in life that don’t go quite right. From the little things, like when you search high and low for something valuable and can’t find it. To the big things, like when something truly traumatic happens that you may never fully recover from. It’s bound to happen. Just as we are all blessed with those days when the sun shines brightly and the birds provide a gentle soundtrack to the day filled with all things happy. Those days are winners that we cherish and need to pause to appreciate fully.

Those are the days that get us through those days filled with nothing but anxiety, worry and disappointment. Because we all lose some from time to time. But this too shall pass. The sun will shine and the birds will sing and peace will be restored to the world again soon enough.

 

With or Without January 11, 2015

I’m usually pretty good with tension. When there is proverbial ice to be broken, I know just what to do. Any number of my repertoire of doggie antics tends to do the trick. But today my powers were useless in my very own living room. In The Right Direction

Nails were being bitten. Nervous eating had ensued. I could feel the tension rising with each passing minute. And nothing I could do seemed to mitigate the situation in any way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a Packer backer as those in my forever family. I just prefer to stay calm if at all possible.

It was not possible today. For me, or for anyone in the room. The final minutes of the Packer game against the Cowboys were intense and scary and exciting and devastatingly amazing all at the same time. I know, I know, it sounds impossible and yet it’s true. It all ended well, though I think at several points throughout the game, it didn’t seem it would.

When all was said and done, the stress and worry was for naught. Everything worked out. The Packers won the game. All was well.

It reminded me of why I’m usually pretty good with tension. I have an entire cabinet of tricks I break out to lighten up the emotions in the room, which us canines have a knack for picking up very easily. I jokingly call it our seventh sense. Cats have nine lives. Dogs have an innate understanding for human emotion.

That’s why I can say with some sense of authority that you can’t sweat the small stuff. The outcome of that game would be the same whether or not we worried and stressed like we did or not. I think there’s something to be taken from that.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another,” suggested American thinker William James. Any good journey will be filled with ups and downs and moments when we think it’s not going to work out. Yet sometimes it always does. With or without the stress.

 

Things Live in Memories January 10, 2015

I would say I’ve lived a pretty full life. This year I will turn seven doggie years old, and I’ve seen a lot, witnessed a lot and learned a lot in my time living joy from the ground up. But even though that makes me the equivalent of almost 50 people years old, I know I haven’t seen it all. There are lots of people in my life who have been around a lot longer and seen a lot more.

Change. From the ground up, I find it’s everywhere. People change and adapt as the world around them evolves. I’ve even seen it as I’ve seen my dear forever mom grow (what some might say is) a bit too attached to her cell phone. The same conceptual device that she used to use to call loved ones has developed into a multi-functional tool. Heck, I can even remember in one of my other (temporary) adoptive homes, they had a phone that was attached to the wall. They had other things I rarely see anymore too, like a humongous box for a television and a record player.

From what I can tell, technology is one of the most rapidly changing things people need to adapt to. And while I feel there is a certain degree of caution that needs to be taken with any and all aforementioned devices, the concept behind the continued modification of society isn’t necessarily a bad one in my mind. Today will become tomorrow whether we like it or not. And that’s nothing to be afraid of in my humble doggie opinion. Hard At Work

I’ve seen a lot in my doggie life. I aspire to see a lot more. But that doesn’t give any less meaning to the things of the past. Though the things themselves may no longer be around, that doesn’t mean they can’t live on through the memories they helped create.

Like this person mom was talking to the other day who fondly remembers when he was seven years old watching the historic 1967 Ice Bowl on 12-inch black and white television with his family. He remembers everything about that day, in part because of that tiny little box that made it all possible.

All good things from the past are not lost. Sure, they are just things. But they are also memories. And memories are meant to hold on to for as long as we’d like.

 

Winning Isn’t Everything October 27, 2014

I’ve never had too much of a competitive spirit. Playful? Sure. But not necessarily competitive. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt to lose. Even when I know I had friends and family rooting for me from all over the place, it still stings a little more than I would like it to. A little more than I expected.

It is with a sad heart I share with you I did not win the costume contest I entered a couple of weeks ago. In spite of the support I had from all of you, my beloved WordPress family, the award went to someone else. When I heard the news, I found myself feeling something with which I am not familiar. Loss. From the ground up, it does not become me.

May The Force

Almost simultaneously, I felt the wheels in my mind churning to find my silver lining. Sure enough, it came to me in droves a mere second or two later. You. The person reading this, standing by my side in this moment. You are my silver lining. Because I may not have won the prize, but I didn’t lose it alone. I lost it with the love and support of every single one of you, regardless of whether you’ve been by my side since I started sharing joy from the ground up in 2012 or you just hopped on the joy wagon today. That is my silver lining.

I know not everyone’s mind works like that. It isn’t everyone’s first reaction to something bad to try to find something good. But it wasn’t always the way my mind worked either. It’s taken making happiness a habit for me to realize that there is a silver lining in any situation; it’s just not always that easy to find.

It is a rare instance for me to disagree with a famously brilliant person, but today that is exactly what I’m going to do. “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing,” said legendary Packer coach Vince Lombardi. As it pertains to the Packers, he’s right. But in every other aspect of life, I can’t say it’s true that winning is the only thing. Especially when losing isn’t half bad.

 

In The Moment September 4, 2014

Usually I side with dad when mom is emotional. Lately she’s been emotional a lot, so dad and I have enjoyed us some quality time. But tonight, on the opening night of NFL football as our beloved Green Bay Packers play the Superbowl champion Seattle Seahawks, I side with my dear forever mom in all her emotional glory. At least a little bit. But mostly I’m with dad.

Eight months ago, when dear baby Carter was a limp cuddly baby noodle, mom and dad and I dressed up in support of our Packers in the one and only game they would play with all four of us present in the 2013-14 season. Carter was only five days old at the time. Packer boys

Tonight was the first game of the 2014-15 season, which I knew meant a lot to mom. Packer football is a big deal around here, and the Schmidt home is no exception. Mom has been looking forward to this day for months, the day her dear little Carter would be part of his first-ever family football game experience. Dad made dinner (which meant a lot to mom) while mom played with Carter and pre-game footage ran in the background. I could sense the enthusiasm, which made it a little bit easier to allow mom to put on the jersey I don’t particularly like to wear.

Eight months ago, we took a family photo with mom and dad and Carter and I all wrapped up in Packer gear.

Tonight it meant something to my mom to reenact the symbolism of that photo. As it becomes more and more likely that dear baby Carter may just be the only little person in the family, mom has gotten nothing but more sentimental about such things. So I guess it shouldn’t have really been a surprise to dad and I that she became passionate about somehow recreating the photo we took all of those months ago tonight.

Let’s just say it was the last thing on dad and my mind. We were much more interested in watching the game and eating the food dad made (which I may or may not have gotten plenty of sneaky scraps of). And while (at first) I definitely understood mom’s point – that she wanted to capture the moment in some way – I realized actually dad and I are right about this one.

Sometimes it is more important to live in the moment, to enjoy the present of presence, than to try to capture it in some way for future enjoyment. Please don’t misunderstand , as you can tell from the multitudes of photos of myself I’ve posted through my blog life you can certainly tell I’m not opposed to capturing the moment from time to time. But I am definitely in favor of living and being present in the present.

So while I am completely supportive of all things emotional, I’m going to stick with dad on this one. Because without living in the present, without taking in each precious moment, there are no memories to capture.

 

It’s A Win-Win January 5, 2014

It’s not about winning. That was mom’s opinion of a failed attempt by the Green Bay Packers to continue their journey to Superbowl 48. Today our beloved Packers fell to the San Francisco 49ers 23-20 in a playoff battle to remember. My Little Team

It was Carter’s first Packer game, and (while he didn’t stay awake for any of it) that brought with it a new kind of excitement. Packer Sundays are filled with traditions in the Schmidt home, and this Sunday was no different. Except it was. My people prepared the usual delicious smelling food, dressed up in their Packer Sunday best, and cheered on the beloved team.

And it was an exciting game, filled ups and downs. Packed with moments of joy and moments of frustration. So when the clock ticked down to nothing and the loss was imminent, mom’s words brought to the situation into perspective for me.

This game, or any game for that matter, is much like life in that way. Filled with ups and downs. Moments of joy and moments of frustration. All of this is experienced as part of a team, which is sometimes greater than the sum of it’s parts. I was reminded in that moment how blessed I am to be part of this particular team. I know we aren’t going to win every battle. But that’s okay, because I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world. They are happiness to me.

“Winning isn’t everything,” Packer coaching legend Vince Lombardi suggested, “it’s the only thing.” And in most other ways, I agree with him. But he was wrong about this. It’s not about winning. It’s about enjoying the game.

 

Foutain of Youth October 23, 2013

You’re tired. You’re sick. Or you just plain don’t feel like doing something. It happens all the time. So how do you stay motivated? I know everyone has their own strategy, but they all have the same underlying foundation. Big girl panties.

From what I understand, the people phrase about putting on big girl panties can apply to both men and women. And it used to confuse me. Until today. Today I saw the value in finding that inner source of energy and embracing it in a time when you least feel like doing so.

It's Free!While I am happy to report my aunt Morgan has moved back to the area from the home of my favorite football team (the Green Bay Packers), exhaustion is the first word that comes to mind tonight. I felt it just being around my forever family and I didn’t lift a paw. Moving is a lot of work (at least from what I can tell). And it’s not usually fun. But it can be. And it was for my forever family (and dad’s friend Chris) tonight.

I watched it all unfold from my comfortable perch on the living room couch, all the while observing the most interesting dynamic. Everyone was tired – no one felt like unloading boxes, moving couches, or assembling bed frames – but the group collectively put on their big girl panties got the job done. And the best part? There they were, this group of adults, laughing like children while they worked.

I found this incredibly ironic since most adults I know fondly recall the time when nap time was a real thing, money grew on trees and there wasn’t a care in the world. At the time, they couldn’t grow up fast enough. Now they wish to reverse the clock and get some of these ultimate simplicities back.

Well, I’ve got a secret. They can. And so can you. Because I figured something out about joy today. Sure it’s free, but that doesn’t mean everyone knows where to shop. The fountain of youth is inside you in all things that bring you joy. You just need to know where to find it. And once you do, it will make the whole big girl panty routine a lot easier.

 

Cheering For The Team September 8, 2013

It’s easy for me to forget sometimes. I go about my days seeking good in all people, places and things so why on Earth would I ever prepare for the worst? Instead I always expect the best. I guess you could say I’ve come to a place in my optimistic philosophy of life where I take good things for granted.

Because it’s not always good news. Sometimes the worst is reality. Like when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. Or there was a car crash. Or there is something terribly wrong with the baby.

It didn’t even occur to me that something could be wrong with the baby. I know mom has been nervous enough about that for the lot of us, but I just assumed that all is well and in approximately 19 more weeks my little person will arrive home happy and healthy. Apparently that may not be the case.

The big ultrasound happened about a week and a half ago. The exciting one. You know, the one where they could find out the sex of the baby? But I’ve decided to continue withholding the results of that particular portion of the test. Because that’s not all it involved. From what I could tell from the conversation that followed the appointment, that wasn’t even the focus. Rather, the true purpose of the ultrasound was to see the baby. Measure the baby. Make sure the baby’s organs are developing in the right places inside the body.Hope

Hearing all of this shocked me to my little doggie core. Well of course the baby looks good, is growing at a healthy pace and has a heart inside its little baby body, I thought. Right? A technician named Steve did the procedure, and he calmly talked them through everything. He explained what he was looking for as he took various pictures, and alas I was right. Each and everything he checked looked perfectly healthy.

What a blessing! And to think I just assumed it to be so. Albeit fabulous news, this was somewhat of a sobering reminder of all of the things that could still go wrong. The worst could still happen. But I realized something today.

My parents were dressing up in their usual Packer Sunday football garb and my little doggie Packer jersey was thrown into the mix. I pictured this happening with my little person someday soon so we would be a happy family of Packer fans cheering on our team.

To cheer on our team. That’s why I think I function in my optimistic bubble of positivity. But like anything, I find myself reminded that we need balance. Because sometimes we get benched. Or injured. Or our career ends forever. Preparing for the worst while expecting the best doesn’t make us weaker. It makes us stronger. That’s easy for me to forget sometimes.

 

It’s That Time Again August 9, 2013

Hot dogs. You’d think as a dog I would love them. You’d think as a lover of all things people food and meat related it would be one of my most favorite things. You’d be wrong.

I was reminded of it today while I kept mom company at the grill. I was in a very happy place and lost myself in the moment as I deeply inhaled the fabulous smell of people food cooking on the grill. She was grilling steak, chicken, corn and potatoes, but she wasn’t the only one grilling in our neighborhood. Somewhere nearby I smelled them. Hot dogs.

That’s when it happened. I closed my eyes and I saw him. The man with the leather belt. I flashed back to his idea of an ideal Friday night in. I’ll never forget how he would completely ignore his daughter Jo (my person at the time, and one of my most favorite little people ever). He would make a whole package of hot dogs for dinner and eat the majority of them while drinking a six-pack of beer and watching baseball on the television in the living room. I would keep poor Jo company, since he wanted nothing to do with her during his manly time.

I’ve never cared much for baseball. I’ve been known to bark at the television when people swing the bats (which is unusual for my typically silent self). I’ve even barked at dad when he practices with his bat in the backyard. I don’t like baseball bats, and I don’t like baseball. And I have my reasons.

But I kind of love American football. More specifically, I love Green Bay Packers football. Not particularly because I like watching it on the television, but because of everything it involves in my forever family. That’s why mom was grilling all of that delicious food (which you’ll note did not include hot dogs). She was going overboard, as dad says she always does, to prepare for a big night of Packer football. (Which I noted was incredibly unusual since it’s a Friday night rather than a Sunday. But I’m not complaining).

The thing I love most about it is it wasn’t that big a night to be fussing about. It is the first pre-season game. My man Aaron Rodgers only played for one drive for crying out loud. But it didn’t matter. We all got gussied up in our Packer jerseys, I got a couple samples of mom’s steak, and we watched the game together as a family. Go Pack Go!

I think that’s why I love football so much. It brings the people I love together (plus I get yummy treats). There’s so much joy in our home during those three hours. And, in case you’re curious, we lost. 17-0. It was kind of brutal. But that didn’t scare the joy away.

 

Life Worth Living August 3, 2013

I learned some unexpected lessons yesterday. I asked for help, and it wasn’t so bad. But the responses to my request, as well as my reaction to them, brought me to some interesting conclusions.

It wasn’t news to me that I have an incredible support system made up of larger than life hearts and creative minds. I’ve known that for a while. But my defensive emotional response when it was suggested that I take a break? I wasn’t expecting that. Let my mind rest until new stories come to me? Stories happen around me every day – I just need to pay attention. Alone With My Thoughts

Indeed it has crossed my mind to take a day or two off from my 365-day journey, but I realize (or perhaps just reaffirm) now that I am stubborn about finishing what I’ve started. Being stubborn is not a very attractive quality to be sure, but I’ve never been a quitter and I have no intention of becoming one now. How can I be when I have words like commitment, perseverance and passion on my mind?

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor,” suggested American football coaching legend Vince Lombardi. My chosen field of endeavor is bringing joy to the world, and I can’t exactly do that if I don’t challenge that little blinking cursor of doom I know as the occasional case of writer’s block. You will not defeat me writer’s block.

It’s no Armani neck tie. It doesn’t hold a cake to a Gucci handbag. It’s definitely not an Hermes scarf. Stubborn is one of those people accessories that just doesn’t look good on anyone. And yet I can’t give up. Instead I’ve decided to be stubborn about that in spite of how it looks on me.

So when I struggle I shall instead embrace excellence in simplicity by taking a page from American naturalist and essayist John Burroughs. “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see,” said Burroughs. I know I have a lot more thoughts to think, places to go, things to learn and friends to make in this life. These are the things that make life worth living.

This post is dedicated to my pal Trev, who shared with me the John Burroughs quote in addition to his friendship. Thanks for being you, dear Trev.