Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

No Waste of Time January 4, 2015

It’s been a good run. My dear forever dad has been home from that place called work for what feels like ages. He gets a break each year when his work shuts down during the holidays. Though the time off is nothing new for us, something about this time seemed special somehow. Pausing to smell the snowflakes

I couldn’t really say why until today. It was kind of a mystery to me why this felt so different this time. We celebrated the holidays (mostly) as we always do. There was love and joy with family and friends. There were a few days when they left to go somewhere exciting where dogs weren’t allowed. I was fine with that because of all of the positive energy I felt from them upon their return. (That, and they were never gone too long on account of dear baby Carter’s napping schedule). And there was an unconventional New Year’s that was more about Carter’s first birthday than anything else. All of it was special in its own rite, but that’s not that unusual in itself around here.

So today when mom said it, a light bulb illuminated my heart. This is the longest stretch of time dad has been home with Carter since he was born. And that didn’t go unnoticed by him or Carter, believe me. In the last week and a half, Carter has perfected his pronunciation of “dada,” favors him for many parts of his daily routine, and chases after him all over the house.

As I’ve watched this all unfold, I thought it might start to bother my dear forever mom. As his primary caregiver, I thought maybe she’d be jealous of this behavior. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I knew it as her and dad reflected on the events of the last few weeks. From Carter’s birthday party to the family time in the snow yesterday to the time they spent together doing nothing at home today as another snow storm made its way through our area, it’s been a pretty great stretch.

That all ends tomorrow when everything goes back to reality. Work. From the ground up, it’s not one of my favorite things. But as tonight makes its way into tomorrow, I figure it’s better to embrace everything that has made this last couple of weeks so memorable. Because that is exactly why these kinds of breaks are important. Not only do they have the power to make reality a lot more bearable, but they remind us of what’s important in life. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the rat race and forget what it’s all about.

As British thinker John Lubbock once said “rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

In our case it was pausing to make snow angels as beautiful snowflakes painted the sky, but it’s all the same to me.

 

The Gift January 1, 2015

I finally found it. It took a little digging this year, but now it’s alive and well in my heart. The spirit of Christmas. From the ground up, there’s a certain appeal in the understanding and appreciation of all it has to offer. I don’t know for sure what the hold up was this year, but today I was reminded of something.

For most people, today was New Year’s Day. A day to focus on all things new and exciting. For the Schmidt family, it was Christmas. Again. Mom even dressed dear baby Carter in his special Christmas Eve pajamas again last night, so when he woke it would be (kind of) like Christmas Day. Except without the quiche and Santa and presents. But that wasn’t the point.Love Is

The point was we had another exciting day of family time to look forward to in Port Washington where my forever dad grew up. His side of the family opts to celebrate together a few days after Christmas for a variety of reasons, and while some might find this strange, it’s something I’ve come to look forward to each year.

This year did not disappoint. All the usual suspects were there, but there was someone new too. I got to meet my new doggie cousin, Jackson. At about a month old, the puppy energy he exuded was contagious from the ground up. Similar to how it is for Carter, everything is new to him. He sniffed and explored and played and explored some more. And I don’t think his little tail stopped wagging the entire time we were there.

I had to dig a little to find my Christmas spirit this year, but today reminded me of something. Sure, there were presents (again). And way too much delicious food (which I obviously scored several samples of throughout the day. Thanks, Sophie!). But that’s not what it was about.

Sometimes the things we have to dig for are most worth the effort. That certainly was the case for me this year. As we drove home and the reality that all things Christmas have now ended, the love in my heart reminded me of the most important Christmas gift of all. The gift that keeps on giving all year round. Joy. From the ground up, it brings us to life in a way few other things can.

 

 

A Winter One-derland December 20, 2014

It was all a little bit confusing to me. I vividly remember everything about last year at this time. I remember the holiday preparations and the family gatherings and all things Christmas. I remember all of it. And all of it happened before dear baby Carter came home.

But alas, today – a few days before Christmas, mind you – we celebrated that day that was (almost) a year ago. That fateful day when life in my forever home would never be the same again in the best kind of way. It was a couple days after New Year’s Eve (when Carter was born) that he came home the first time. And although literally speaking that day happened almost a year ago it does indeed feel like yesterday. Double trouble

So when celebrations unfolded today it was a little confusing at first. It made all that nervous excitement in recent days make a lot more sense. It brought to light what all that fuss was about in the kitchen yesterday and into the night last night. My forever home had become a “Winter One-derland” right before my eyes. And I loved every bit of it.

It isn’t often this particular group of friends and family get together. I’m sure it will happen a bit more frequently now that Carter is in the family portrait, but prior to that it didn’t happen much. Mom’s family and dad’s family came together today and I was just so overwhelmed to see it all happen. I love my people, so I adore their people by proxy.

Few things in life are as emotionally satisfying as being surrounded by so many loved ones in your home. Joy. From the ground up, it lived in the visitors today as all kinds of silliness unfolded before my eyes. There was no lack in things to see, but I think the incident with the smash cake was my favorite.

Mom went through all kinds of trouble to craft an absolutely beautiful work of art of a cake with the specific purpose of being torn apart by Carter. At first it seemed a bit wasteful to me, but I can’t say I minded the waste that made its way to the floor. Nor did I mind the various other treats and nibbles I gathered throughout the day. Or the extra pets and love.

I may have started the day a bit confused. The way I see it, we are celebrating the passing of time almost two weeks early. But as the day went on and all of the excitement that led up to it came to fruition, I was reminded of something. It doesn’t matter when the birthday celebration happens. Because every day is a day to celebrate.

To see the action of the day:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.593327026977&type=1&l=1c1252ca14

 

Broken Little Things November 26, 2014

I think it is probably one of the most frustrating things I see people experience. That says a lot given all that I observe in a day between my early morning, mid-morning, late morning, early afternoon, mid-afternoon and late afternoon naps. And it happened again today.

Mom has been in the holiday spirit even more than usual (which is saying a lot, believe me), so she’s been going against her self-imposed rule not to put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Alas, the garland is up, the stockings are hung, and various other decorations donning messages of all things holiday are sprinkled throughout my forever home. I love every bit of it, not just  because of the brightness of the twinkle lights throughout the house, but because I can see straight through the twinkle in her eye to her happy heart.Just call me Wiley

All was going according to plan today when it happened. Three strings of new lights didn’t work. They were all brand new, purchased from the store today, and they simply did not light up. They were broken beyond repair. And there was a brief pause as this sank in for my forever mom and dad as they were near completion on operation holiday decoration for the day. Defeat. From the ground up, it was in the air. But not for long.

Because things don’t work sometimes. Things are broken. It is not the end of the world. First of all, they are just things. You can’t take any of it with you to heaven, so in my opinion it doesn’t really matter all that much. Beyond that, defeat has no place in a day like today. A day full of twinkle lights and Christmas carols and joy. That is what today was about.

The thing is, I understand it’s frustrating. It’s infuriating. It’s absolutely maddening when something is supposed to work and doesn’t. But that’s life. And life goes on. The question is, are you going on with it? Or are you going to let something as silly as a broken set of holiday lights bring darkness into your day? Either way, it’s up to you. But I find there is strength to be gained from these situations that is much more significant than any broken little thing.

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places,” as American author Ernest Hemingway put it. And I would say it is the broken places that make us who we are.

 

A Season for Giving November 17, 2014

Some stories are meant to be told. I stumbled across one today in a conversation I overheard between mom and dad over dinner. Mom spoke with a woman today who volunteers at a local toy shop that is sourced by a toy drive around the holiday season.

The drive benefits struggling local families who may not be able to afford toys for their children for Christmas. The woman mom spoke with didn’t know what to expect when she volunteered last year, so what happened changed her heart forever.

There was a woman who was getting a couple of books for her children. When she brought them to the volunteer to check out (so to speak), she was crying. Upon initiation of conversation with this woman, the volunteer asked about her children and reassured her they would love the gifts she picked out for them. That’s when the tears really started rolling. Whether her children would like the books was not her concern.The New Look

“No, no, it’s not you,” the woman said. “I’m just so excited to have something to read to my children.”

I’m just so excited to have something to read to my children. Please understand, this is coming from your resident rescued doggie optimist. I’ve lived life as a have and a have not. I know not to take things for granted. But reading is implied. It seems obvious to me. That is until I heard this story.

What a fabulous reminder not only what the season is about, but what sincere giving is about. What living with purpose is about. What paying it forward is about.

Some stories are meant to be shared. What is yours?

 

Those Who Wait November 16, 2014

Waiting drives me crazy. I don’t care whether it’s good news or bad, just give it to me straight and give it to me now. I don’t like waiting for my people to get back from that place called work or practicing my least favorite tricks (which involve waiting and staying). Waiting is not for the dogs.

Winter has arrived around here, complete with our first measurable snowfall. I love everything about the snow and the joy it seems to surround this time of year. Excitement abounds as people start putting together plans for holiday festivities and parties and all things involving delicious food and time with loved ones. How High?

But I find this thing happens all to frequently as far as the seasons are concerned. Just as a new one starts, we find ourselves anxiously anticipating, waiting, for the next. I find this happens even more so with winter, since there are the obvious drawbacks to snow-covered roads when attempting to travel safely to one of the aforementioned festivities. People wait for spring and when spring comes they wait for summer. And so on.

While I do have an (albeit learned and carefully practiced) appreciation for patience, waiting drives me crazy. I think it’s to do with the passive nature of it almost as much as the implication that today isn’t good enough. I know the great and infamous “they” say good things come to those who wait, but I disagree. For the most part, good things come just as frequently to those who live in the moment. Who don’t wait. Who decide that today is a day to embrace rather than wish to be over just so we can be one step closer to tomorrow.

I know my mom is guilty of this all to often. She puts so much emotional energy in planning for something that when it comes it is almost a let down as it happens. Mostly because she wants it to be just so. She wants it to be perfect. And she gets so tied up in that she misses the joy in the moment.

That’s why I believe in the practice of patience, which Christian author Joyce Meyer describes well when she suggests “patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” I figured out today why waiting drives me so crazy. It’s because I’d rather be living.

 

 

A (Sun)day In The Life October 6, 2013

There is simply no excuse for me. I have no good reason for not attending the Out of the Darkness Paws for Prevention walk as promised today. Granted, it would have been tough to do without my driver (aka mom) deciding to go. Which she didn’t.

Instead I was incredibly lazy. Let’s be honest – my days are generally fairly laid back. But today I felt particularly lazy as my people hustled and bustled all over the house. The windows were open to let the beautiful fall air in and dad worked on something stinky in the baby’s room. That paint stuff is for the dogs. I don’t like it.

So I stayed close to mom in the kitchen. Boy, she was busy in there today. First, it smelled spicy with what I heard her call chili. Then the meaty goodness mixed with a sweetness she called apple pumpkin soup. (There was bacon involved with this because I scored a few nibbles when dad wasn’t looking). Finally, jambalaya joined the mix. It was definitely better than the paint smell, but I was basically hungry all day long thanks to the delicious odors wafting through the air.

Outside was busy too. The hum of leaf blowers was prominent throughout the day as this is the price my people and their neighbors pay for the beautiful trees that line the street. And then I got a visit from two little boys from down the street. I tried to hug them, but I don’t think they cared too much for that. They were focused on collecting orders for Christmas wreaths. In early October.

Here I was appreciating the fabulousness of all things fall and apparently we are fast-tracking to Christmas already. I didn’t expect mom to buy one because the season is so far away. But she has been in the habit of surprising me lately, and today she did not disappoint.

So we are all set for Christmas now, at least as it pertains to the wreath for the front door. And at first I felt kind of irritated about it. What about Halloween? And Thanksgiving (which might just be my favorite people holiday)? Then I remembered that thing I like to find in all situations. The silver lining.

December may seem far away. But it’s not. Which means all of the joy of the holidays is not far away. While I am a believer in living in the joy of the season year-round, Christmas is a time when joy abounds all around me. It’s one thing to believe something on the inside. It’s another thing to be completely enveloped with it on the outside.

I didn’t have to go to the Paws for Prevention walk today to know that. To know the importance of sharing my joy from the ground up with whomever will take it. I do feel badly about breaking my promise to attend the important event. But I know I was where I was supposed to be today. Soaking it all in. Life. From the ground up. It looks pretty good to me.

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