Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Peace on Earth December 24, 2014

It is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. It is not the absence of war, (but rather) a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice. It begins with a smile.

Peace. From the ground up, minds filled with a lot more wisdom than mind have a few things to say about it. Like civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. And Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza. And Catholic visionary Mother Theresa.20141224_170645

Like joy, I know peace takes many forms. It looks different to everyone depending on his or her life experiences and overall perspective on the world around them. It’s Christmas Eve around here, and though we don’t have any snow (an incredibly unusual occurrence in Wisconsin this time of year) on the ground, celebrations are in high gear.

But I can’t help but think about what happens in a couple days. After all the ribbons and bows are torn from their presents. After the holly jolly music has fled the airwaves. After the turkeys and hams and other holiday goodies are all long gone. Trees and decorations get put away, and a big empty hole can stand in its place.

It all brings to mind the words of Buddha, who suggested “peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

I hear it in the stillness of snowflakes falling around me in my backyard paradise. I feel it in my heart when my forever family is together and happy. I see it in smiles and laughter. I find peace all around me, and I know it is because it starts in my heart.

This may seem to many like a time of year for embracing all things worldly, but to me it’s just as important to remember where it all starts. The reason for the season. The love and joy and peace and all things holly and jolly. The life this season is capable of breathing into our souls is like no other.

Like the thinkers who are wiser than me suggested, it is how we arrive at a goal. It is a state of mind that can present itself in something as simple as a smile. And, as Mahatma Gandhi said, it “is its own reward.”

So from my little family to yours, I wish you a very Merry (and peaceful) Christmas.

 

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

 

You Lose Some December 14, 2014

There is something about this holiday season I can’t put my finger (er, I mean paw) on. It bothered me on that day called Black Friday, when my forever mom and dad came home upset about the rude and pushy people they encountered. It bothered me every time since then they’ve ventured out to the stores and came back emotionally defeated. Silly People

It happened again today. Mom went on a solo trip to a few stores and instead of returning home joyful and full of the spirit of the season, she cried. That did seem admittedly a bit overkill from my doggie perspective, but I digress. The point is, it was not a good shopping excursion yet again. Partially because of the people, who have apparently gotten even more spiteful and hurried as time has gone on. But also because she came across a hurdle at every turn. There was something in the way of every single thing on her shopping list.

That store in the mall closed months ago. That product isn’t carried at this store anymore. They are sold out of that item at all locations of this department store. Defeat was the word she used when she returned home with literally nothing to show for her efforts.

Like I said, there is something about this holiday season I can’t quite put my paw on. But I do know the reason for the season, and I know mom does too. It’s not about the people at the stores or the shopping or the bags or the presents. It’s not about the chaos and the wrapping paper and the perfect gift. It’s about the magic. It’s about celebrating with family and friends. All that other stuff is ornamental.

Regardless of what is going on with the season this year, I know that for sure. I also know these days happen. Bad days are a reality of life. You win some, you lose some. But in my opinion, that’s okay because it makes the wins that much more meaningful.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Reason for the Season November 6, 2014

I think we all have them. Certain phrases or cliches that make us cringe at the mere utterance of the words. For me, it’s you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I openly despise these words, mostly because I know in my heart they are completely false. It’s that simple.

The truth is, I think this is one of many realities that translates from the four-legged to the two-legged world. Ageism is a problem in society, and it is one of the things in life I just don’t understand. With age comes life. Wisdom. Memories. These are things to be honored and respected, not tarnished by a silly stereotype. Let Your Heart Be Light

I know some people don’t like it when mom asks them how young they are, but I also know she has her reasons. And she asks the question the same way, whether she’s talking to a six-year-old or a 67-year-old. I heard it again today, as she interviewed an older woman and her husband who make appearances in our area as Santa and Mrs. Claus. Santa’s helpers, they called themselves.

They too spoke of this societal problem with age, as they focus their emotional efforts on keeping the magic of Christmas alive regardless of who they visit. And it pays off, because from day cares to nursing homes, the result is the same. They inspire a joy deep within you can’t lose with age. I would dare go as far as to say it only gets better with age, but that’s just my humble doggie opinion.

I know we all have opinions about things, just like we all have phrases that make us emotionally cringe. But that’s also the reason I found this a fitting message to share as we are at the helm of the holiday season. I know random acts of kindness become a lot less random this time of year. I know its easier to be joyful and happy as planning gets underway for fun family festivities and holiday parties.

But I also know it’s not the same for everyone. For some people, these next couple of months are a torturous three month reminder of a loved one lost. A parent, a friend, or a family member who used to breathe life into the holiday has now left a gaping hole in the heart where joy used to be.

Young or old, these people need us this year. They need our love. They need our support. They need our joy to be contagious. Because ultimately that is what the holiday season is all about.

 

On Being a Firecracker July 4, 2014

It’s pretty special. It’s one of those things you save for a rainy day to remember the sunshine even. And it’s all mine. Well, to be fair, its my forever parent’s. Nonetheless, I’ve found it hasn’t changed with time. Dear baby Carter is six months old now and he still does the same thing he always did when he was overwhelmed with happiness. He smiles and turns away into whomever is fortunate enough to be holding him at the time.

As he’s gotten older, the excitement has spread to his little chubby legs, which usually kick like crazy while he is overwhelmed with joy. It’s one of those things that makes me so very happy to see that I honestly am overcome with joy myself. And it happened today. A lot.

Today is one of those days that I know for certain Carter wasn’t the only one overcome with joy to observe. Today is a day filled with parades and fireworks and love and joy and celebration. Today was independence day.

Sadly (for me) I wasn’t invited to some of the joy-inducing fun, such as the parade my people attended. But I got my fair share of joy out of the day when they came home and we all spent time outside in my backyard paradise while they recalled the events. It really was the kind of time filled with moments you know you will never get back.

Mom and dad took Carter swimming in our neighbor’s pool, which made mom happier than anyone else. Then dad grilled, mom baked, and I napped in the sun while Carter napped in his crib. It really was one of those magical days mom hoped it would be. Which, to be honest, was a relief for me. I know my dear forever mom better than the average outsider and I know how important today was to her. I know she wanted everything to go perfectly for Carter’s first fourth of July.

Because it is pretty special. A day when people are so overcome with joy they can’t even contain themselves. Just like when dear baby Carter kicks his crazy little legs with uncontrollable enthusiasm. So it all makes me scratch my head sometimes why mom would worry so much about things being perfect. At least from what I can tell there is no need for worry. All is well in our world. Now all we need to do is realize it.

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When You’re Down January 26, 2014

Please don’t laugh. It was a big time adventure for mom and I today. She took me with her to an especially exciting destination on what was her first venture out of the house in almost a week. The grocery store! It doesn’t mean much for me, other than a brief car ride to and from, with a quick nap on the driver’s seat in between.On the Road Again

But it was more than that. I was mom’s copilot again. Amidst the last several weeks since baby Carter’s arrival, I’ve missed alone time with her. So that made what some might call a routine drive into something kind of special for me. And then it happened.

I looked around and noticed some serious changes since my last car ride around the holidays. It was all holly and jolly with twinkle lights and Christmas wreaths and joy. From the ground up, the holiday season was everywhere.

Not anymore. Today was a dreary day in Wisconsin. I don’t even think it hit the anticipated high of 26 degrees. And we face more frigid temperatures (with wind chills estimated in the -50 degree range) in the days to come. The sky was grey. And there are no twinkle lights left to bring any holly or jolly. To be honest, it is a pretty depressing sight to be seen.

So there are no more twinkle lights. We just need to make our own. I know it’s silly, but I found such joy in my car ride today. Because I’m not in the business of all things sad. As mom went inside the grocery store and I cuddled into a cozy ball, I fought to find a silver lining in these doldrums that surround us.

I know its tough not to let such things take a negative effect on emotions. But thinking about the negative inspires positivity for me. That is what joy from the ground up is all about. When you’re down, there is no where to go but up. Or on a car ride to nowhere. That always does the trick.

 

A Different Kind of Light December 1, 2013

Salami. It’s one of the less glamorous things I dream about. And today my dreams were realized, as they usually are around this time of year. I knew it the second mom came into the house with those bags from the grocery store. I could smell that deliciousness a mile away. Salami.

It’s a special treat in my forever home, saved only for a special occasion. Around here, it’s a very small part of a very big tradition in the Schmidt home known as Christmas tree day. It came a little earlier than usual this year (thanks, in part, to my parents planning around the impeding arrival of baby Schmidt). Usually this special day happens the first or second weeks of December. Not this year.
Let There Be Light
Christmas came early this year. And with it came a slew of traditions. All I can think to compare it to is when us canines obsessively nest. You’ve all seen it – we can’t lie down until we find the absolute perfect position in the best possible spot. The ritual can take as much as a few minutes sometimes. Though none of it involves lying down, tradition and ritual seem to be incredibly important to my mom this time of year.

All I have ever been able to focus on during Christmas tree day is the salami. So today (after I had secured at least two samples from mom) I focused on the rest of the traditions that surround the day. Mom turns up Christmas music, puts on a silly Santa hat, and prepares a few plates of appetizers for her and dad to munch on while they work. It’s all part of the tradition, and has been since my mom was a little girl.

I enjoy watching them reminisce about where and when they bought certain ornaments. Some bring laughs (like the goofy handmade ones mom made when she was little). A couple bring tears (like the one dad gave to mom a year or two before he passed away). But, as with all rituals, it always ends the same way. And it doesn’t have to make sense. It started with salami but it ends with glowing light. Not just on the tree, but in our hearts.

 

Big Bang Theory November 27, 2013

It starts with an idea. When it comes to ideas, mine was about as simple as it gets. It came to be almost a year ago in one of the smallest and most intricate packages you can imagine. A snowflake. I watched it fall from the sky and I knew. Joy. In a moment there it was. And I wanted to share it. With you.

From the ground up, I share my observations of the world around me. I try to see the good in all people, places and things; to not just find and identify the silver lining, but to embrace it. So when something happens like it did today, I can’t wait to share it.

I heard an angel laughing today. There I was, sitting there in my living room pretty much minding my own business, when it happened. Laughter. Lots and lots and lots of laughter. My forever mom and her friend Jessica were laughing too, but that’s no matter. All I heard was baby Alexis. And it was a beautiful sound.

I didn’t do anything particularly entertaining. I didn’t have to. She just kept laughing. And my heart kept smiling. If only it was this easy to share joy with the world, I thought. But that sounds awfully negative, and that’s not who I am. I believe in making dreams come true, and this is no exception. It can be that easy to share joy with the world. But I need your help.

I’m not a big believer in science. But there is one scientific theory I can stand behind – experiments. So today I ask for your help with an experiment I’ve been wanting to try since that first snowflake fell down from the sky all those months ago. How many people can I share joy with today? I, Wiley Schmidt, on the eve of the American holiday of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for joy. And from the ground up, I have ten seconds of it to share. Consider it yours.

It starts with an idea. And mine is about as simple as it gets – share my perspective on joy with the world. Please consider sharing this piece of joy from the ground up with someone and encourage them to do the same. Joy. In a moment here it is. Who will you share it with?