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.

 

And Let It Begin With Me December 17, 2014

It’s not uncommon for it to happen at any given time during the year. Thanks to the evolution of streaming radio, it can happen with the touch of a button. And around here it does. It doesn’t matter if it’s February or July or September. Christmas music is a favorite thing for my dear forever mom.

What that means for me is I get to hear all my holiday favorites whether its snowy and frigid or sunny and toasty. And I’m not going to lie – it has a way of evoking that special sense of the magic of Christmas regardless of when I hear the words. Frank Sinatra’s original version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” are two of the best in my opinion.

Today I (re)discovered a familiar tune that I had forgotten about in recent years. I haven’t heard it much for whatever reason, but when I heard it today it invigorated my previously lacking sense of holiday happiness.

“Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me,” the song goes. “Let there be peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be.” There is something so simple about the lyrics, but what stands out to me is the sense of personal responsibility for one’s role in the world. A personal responsibility for the impact we have on others. And (good or bad) it doesn’t take much.

I think I heard one too many stories of the rude and pushy people out there in the world this holiday season. It got to me.

That ends now.

Today was not unlike most days in my forever home. But hearing that song reminded me yet again what is important in even the most normal of days. Joy. Peace. Love. From the ground up, these are the building blocks of who I am.

So tonight I do my part to bring to life the words of my new favorite Christmas carol. Let there be joy. Let there be peace. Let there be love. And let it all start with me.

 

A Kindness Too Soon November 22, 2014

Stop. Pause. Breathe. If people could learn tricks, that is what I wish I could tell them to do this time of year.

I’ve said before the holidays are a favorite time of mine, what with all the family time and music and snow and snuggling. There are few things about the holidays I don’t enjoy. But there is one thing in particular that gets to me. It happens every single year and seems to intensify as the countdown to Christmas continues.

I Am Listening!People get rude. Pushy. Rushed. And completely inconsiderate of those around them. I don’t witness much of it in person, but I hear plenty of stories exchanged between my forever people to know what’s up. It drives me crazy. Not just because it’s the season of giving. Gratitude. Unconditional love. But because of the impact this behavior has. Negativity has an awful way of spreading like a disease no one can control, and while I would hate to see that happen at any point in time, it bothers me most around the holidays.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late,” suggested one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson. If there is a reason to rush this holiday season, that’s the reason.

Because this is supposed to be a season of kindness. A season to share love with others who may otherwise not receive it. This is supposed to be a time of joy, and any ignorant person in a parking lot who steals a spot from an elderly lady or shoves their way in front of someone in line or loses patience with the overworked clerk who is only in the challenging position because the store is understaffed…well, they are doing nothing but stealing joy from other people. Not sharing it.

So I say stop. Pause. Breathe. Remember what the season is really about. It’s not about the gifts or the wrapping paper or the perfect Christmas tree. Its about joy. From the ground up, that is the real reason for the season.

 

 

The Gift November 14, 2014

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was freezing cold outside, but snow was falling in the peaceful way it does in a snow storm. I was watching Jo watch the flakes fall from heaven from my favorite vantage point snuggled against the crook of her tiny legs. Carols were playing softly in the background, and the house smelled like hot chocolate and cinnamon.

It was Christmas Eve, and though Jo and the man with the leather belt didn’t have much, the man found it in his (usually stone cold) heart to make something special of the holiday. There were presents wrapped under the Christmas tree he helped Jo and I decorate, and as Jo opened them I was overcome with the purest sense of joy as I watched the giddy glee take over her usually very serious face.Wiley Schmidt: Blogger

It didn’t occur to me in the least that something under the tree was for me. I had never gotten an actual Christmas present. Joy had always been enough. Or so I thought.

If I thought Jo was joyful as she received her gifts, that was nothing compared to how she embodied happiness as she handed me my gift. It was wrapped with pretty paper and a ribbon, which I remember thinking was so silly since I obviously couldn’t unwrap it myself. “To Wiley, from your Jo” she read the tag to me before tearing into the box. Out she pulled one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. A collar she put together using things she had around the house (ribbons, broken head bands and the like) and a shiny tag that read “Wiley.”

If dogs could cry, I would have been bawling. But alas, all I could do was lick her and love her even more than usual, which was no hardship for me by any means. That was the very first collar I had and in many ways it remains my favorite to this day.

It wasn’t all that long after that blessed day that I remember feeling my heart break when the man with the leather belt ripped my precious collar off that day he left me on the side of the road. I loved being Jo’s Wiley. I was her protector, and she was mine. I will never forget her, or that beloved collar she gave me.

But I realized many (many) blessed days later that it’s not about the collar. It’s about belonging. It’s about knowing where I belong. Where home is.

I know there are dogs who nip and scratch and tear at their collars. I’ve never been one of them. My collar says who I am, but more importantly it says what I am. I am somebody’s. I belong. My people have changed the collars themselves up a few times since finding my forever home, but the one I’m wearing now says it all. “Rescued” it reads. Having a home, and having reminder of that to call my own is the best gift I could ever be given.