Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Lot Like Love February 13, 2015

It’s one of those things I’m glad us canines never have to worry about. We are what we are, and (other than our breed, I suppose) it really is as simple as that. We don’t have labels for things. Not like people with their relationship statuses anyway.

Single. Widowed. Divorced. Married. It’s complicated.

Indeed it is complicated, and not in a good way. Because in my mind there is something that unites all of these labels together in spite of society’s attempts to identify separate groups. Love. From the ground up, I find it to be a constantly evolving emotion that truly knows no bounds. Nor does it fit perfectly into any one of those boxes.

Around here, I saw this brought to life today in some intriguingly interesting ways. My dear forever mom worked mostly from home today, which means Carter and I got to enjoy a little extra time with her than usual. I watched as she put on her Energizer bunny hat, seeming determined to get some serious work done around here. When she wasn’t taking care of Carter, she was working. And when she wasn’t working, she was cleaning. Kisses

It probably doesn’t sound like much, but I could tell this particular round of chores had a special motive for her. My suspicions were confirmed when she (as she does quite often) explained to Carter and I what she was up to. Her goal was to get chores done today so her and my dear forever dad wouldn’t have to worry about them over the weekend. It was her little way, in addition to the gift and card she got him for Valentine’s Day tomorrow, to show her love.

So when the doorbell rang this afternoon, she was actually a bit irritated at first. How dare whoever is at the door interrupt her in while she was in the midst of her love-driven cleaning/organizing/working rampage? The tears came when she opened the door and saw what awaited her outside. Flowers. From dad, Carter and I.

And so we showed our love for mom in a slightly less practical way. (Though I will admit it was dad who took the lead with the idea).

Watching all of this happen reminded me of some pretty important features about this thing called love. It doesn’t have to fit into a box. Whether you’re single or have been married for 75 years, it finds its way into life in moments like these. As it should, I feel, for anyone you care about.

So tomorrow, as we in America pause to reflect on all things love, I’ve decided to stop to take stock of all of the loved ones in my life. Not just my forever family, but my extended families and friends and those I haven’t seen in a while and you out there in the blogosphere. I might not be able to show you with chores (or flowers), but believe me when I say from the bottom of my little doggie heart: I love you.

 

A(nother) Big Reveal January 19, 2015

Excitement. Worry. Joy. Fear. These are an odd combination of emotions to feel all at once, but not necessarily at the receipt of any kind of big news. Not necessarily at the receipt of this kind of big news.

I’ve known it for a while, but opted to respect whatever timing element I did the last time around. That’s saying a lot as a doggie who wears his heart on his proverbial sleeve. I am usually pretty terrible at keeping secrets because I make it a goal of mine to be as emotionally present in the moment as possible. To me, that means sharing joy and all things blissful with anyone and everyone that will take it.

So the last few months have been pretty rough, keeping this news to myself. Especially given the impact it is having on my forever people.

I’m going to be a big brother! Again!

I honestly think I knew before mom did, just like I did with dear baby Carter. (Dogs have a sixth sense about these things). There was an almost immediate change in her heart rate, her smells, and her general persona. Joy. In a word, that’s what this secret contains.Big announcement!

This is big news. This is life-changing news. But this time, the news brought with it a little larger sense of fear and worry than last time. The idea of having two little people under two running around our forever home has its downsides. Those sleepless nights will return all too soon. Life will become a balancing act for all of us as the schedule is uprooted yet again. Money is already tight as it is – what will happen with another toddler in the house? And the diapers. So many diapers.

But then there’s the joy. So much joy. Family. Love. I’ve never seen my parents closer than they are since they brought home dear Carter, and I have no doubt another child will continue to foster their emotional growth. So what if it’s a little scary? These things have a way of working out. Besides, I’m just so excited to become a big brother again, and even more so for my little person to feel the love in this forever home of mine. Mom is home to me, and I know she will be home to the new little person. June 16, here we come!

 

 

Made More Beautiful April 19, 2014

I don’t get out much. Sure, I get to explore the neighborhood on walks. I have complete power over my backyard paradise. And I know the dog park like the back of my paw. But in the grand scheme of things I spend the majority of my time inside. This is in no way a complaint, as I am fortunate and thankful to have the roof of my forever home over my head.

I don’t have to worry about where my food comes from or finding clean water or having enough toys or feeling loved. I have all of these things in the comfort of home. But today I got to thinking how life would be different if that wasn’t the case. If I spent more time outside the safety and security of this house.It Wasn't Me

In every possibly way I see the same dog in that scenario. Probably slightly scruffier looking, but pretty darned close. Just as its what is inside a house that makes it a home, it is what is in our heart that makes us who we are. It’s what on the inside that matters.

As I daydreamed about this parallel reality I did find one not-so-tiny thing that made me wish it were true. If I was out and about more I could touch more lives. I would want to do the right thing and remember the person behind the people and keep in mind the power of the little things. I would want to paw it forward.

“True generosity is an offering,” suggests American author and motivational speaker Suze Orman, “(It is) given freely and out of pure love. No strings attached. No expectations. Time and love are the most valuable possessions you can share.”

I don’t get out much. And that’s okay. Because if I did, I’m not sure how different life would look. I would still seek the good in people, places and things. I would live to spread joy from the ground up. I would find ways to make life more beautiful.

I think it would look something like this:

 

An Open Apology to the Mail Man January 7, 2014

Apparently it’s called a mailbox. To me, it’s another post to pee on during my walks through the neighborhood. And it marks the entry to the driveway to my forever home. But at least from what I can tell this thing called a mailbox must be pretty special. It gets a special visitor almost every afternoon, who delivers a variety of things.

Love/hate is how I would describe my relationship with this visitor, who is also referred to by my people as the mail man. He usually visits when my people are away at that place called work, so I feel it is my duty to at least pay close attention (if not bark and/or whine) when he stops by. Observation has informed me he is not a hazard, but one can never be too careful.One Big Card

In addition, it seems he brings both good and bad news to my people. I don’t know what bills are, but he seems to bring a lot of those. We also get a fair share of junk mail and credit card offers. But today it was good news this man delivered. In multitude.

To say my people have been the slightest bit preoccupied lately is an understatement. There’s also been a bit of sleep deprivation. (Baby Carter wakes us several times a night, and together we wander our tired family around the house to accommodate his hunger). I would say it has probably been at least a week since they last checked the mailbox for good news or bad.

So it was a big old pile that (miraculously) only contained one bill and a bit of junk mail. The rest was joy. Holiday cards and baby congratulation cards and gifts made up the majority of the contents. Congratulations cards from great grandma Fran and great aunt Kandi (including one the size of baby Carter himself). Messages of love from great aunt Lesleigh. A Christmas card from our blog friend in Ohio. A special delivery from our blog friend in the United Kingdom. Within it, each contained a personal message of love and encouragement. And each card made mom cry because to her that wasn’t all they contained. Joy. From the ground up, it was had in today’s mail.

Maybe I owe the mail man an apology.

 

If I Were a Human December 28, 2013

I wonder sometimes what I would be like if I had two legs instead of four. If I walked amongst people as one of their own. If I could carry on a normal conversation instead of relying (almost) entirely on nonverbal communication.

In these thoughts I find I am not so concerned with what I look like (though I’m sure I’d be blonde haired and brown eyed) or what kind of clothes I would wear. I don’t think it would matter to me what kind of car I drove, or how big my house was. Would I? Money Can't Buy Love

I daydreamed today that I was human and won the lottery. And not just the $3 dad occasionally wins and splits with his work friends as part of their weekly lottery pool. I won big time. One billion dollars. What would I do with such winnings?

In my daydream, I bought everything my people ever wanted. That house in a better school district. Those fancy shoes mom is always lusting after. The Shelby Mustang dad dreams about. The honeymoon they never took. I bought it all and there was still plenty leftover to donate to some of my favorite charities (like the humane society and ISF) and invest in something that would produce enough income to allow mom to stay home with the little person. (Dad too, if he wanted).

As I daydreamed, my people were away dreaming a dream of their own. Dad has been on a mission to replace their cars with what he refers to as newer safer ones. Words like reliability and dependability seem to have gained a new level of importance now that the little person is on his or her way any day now. But upon returning home it didn’t take me long to see the disappointment in their faces. This dream can’t come true. Not right now.

And I found myself wondering again what I would be like with two legs instead of four. Would I need the lottery and all the fancy things it could provide? Or would I prefer to earn an honest living as a struggling author who volunteers at the local animal shelter on the weekends?

I’m quite certain there is no right answer. And all of this is made much more complicated by my overall lack of understanding of how the whole money thing even works. I don’t know what I would be like if I were human any more than my people know what it would be like to win the lottery. And tonight as we three musketeers settled in together to watch a movie I realized that’s okay. Because we’re happy this way.

Besides, “greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction,” suggested German psychologist Erich Fromm. It doesn’t matter whether I have two legs or four. I’d much rather live life happy than in endless pursuit. Keep your money, bottomless pit. It’s happiness I choose.

 

A Lesson In Sacrifice December 23, 2013

Disgruntled, disheveled and exhausted. Or in other words crabby. That’s how mom came home today from that place called work. Apparently her mood was reflective of the majority of the folks with whom she came into contact today. People who wanted things done. Now. Unless yesterday is possible, in which case they would prefer that.

The truth is, on a day like today, you are only one person who can really only do one thing: your best. I got the impression that’s what she did, but it sure took its toll on her emotions. She looked like she could cry the moment she walked in the door. And my keen attentiveness to such things informs me this would most definitely not have been tears of joy.

Watching and waitingThat’s when it happened. Just as she came through the door, dad stepped up to the plate. He took one for the team. I was ready with all my usual tactics for brining joy into a room and dad beat me to it. He swept her away to some place immediately upon her arrival home and when they returned they were laughing. No more almost tears. It was really something to see.

What mom doesn’t know is dad had a rough day too. He didn’t sleep much last night either. He’s overcome with worry of his own about all things pregnancy and labor and baby related. I’ve even been guilty of forgetting this in the last nine months. But none of that mattered in those crucial moments when mom got home. He pushed everything he was feeling aside to bring joy to mom.

I never really have to do such things. Sure, I worry and have my own things that evoke fear and stress. But for me, bringing joy to the lives of others rarely (if ever) involves sacrifice. The way I see it its ingrained in me as my work in my forever home. Except it’s not work because I love it so much. It’s part of what I’m meant to do.

Dad, on the other hand, definitely sacrificed his own thoughts and emotions to support mom tonight. And I’m proud of him. “If you want to be loved, be lovable,” suggested ancient Roman poet Ovid. Mom certainly wasn’t lovable upon returning home from that place called work today. Regardless of the reasons, she was an emotional wreck. But dad loves and cared for her anyway. And it worked. That’s the thing about selflessness – it tends to do the trick every time.

 

What To Expect December 22, 2013

We’ve got hiccups known as practice breathing. We’ve got normal aches and pains. We’ve got the baby bump (which has been a very comfy pillow for me lately). But of all the things in all the books and all the online reading, I certainly didn’t expect this.

At nine months pregnant, mom got some startling news from her doctor the other day. Baby Schmidt is racing to the finish line. It turns out he or she is growing exceptionally fast for his or her gestational age, with measurements that put our dear soon-to-be little person in the not-so-little category. Mom went to something called an ultrasound to confirm the details, and sure enough. Baby Schmidt’s measurements reveal a baby that could be as much as nine pounds. Already. At 36 weeks.

This came as quite the surprise to me, as I have resigned myself to thinking I will not be meeting my little person for some time yet. Just because the bottles are all sterilized and the clothes are all washed and the room is put together (and has been for more than a month now) doesn’t mean the arrival will happen any sooner.Snowy Sunday

But alas, perhaps it could. To me this is joyous news! My little person wants to meet me sooner rather than later! I’m pumped! So I can’t quite piece together why mom seems so worried. Worry has been the dominating emotion around here lately and I can’t say it’s my favorite. She is my person and I can’t stand to see her like this. But I’ve done everything I can do – including some fun in the snow today followed by serious cuddle time – to bring that worry out of her. Nothing is working.

Instead she continues to consult those darned books and blogs and all other sources of potentially scary information. Worry isn’t getting us anywhere. I realized today it never does. Pregnant or otherwise, worry tends to do nothing but stall forward progress.

“While we are focusing on fear, worry, or hate,” suggested author Bo Bennett, “it is not possible for us to be experiencing happiness, enthusiasm or love.”

From practice breathing to aches and pains to the bittersweet beauty of the baby bump, we’ve got a whole lot of normal going on around here. Even this news is okay news. Normal news. There is joy in these things. So I chose to focus on that – the happiness, enthusiasm and love. Because these are the emotional fuel for something much bigger than worry. These are the fuel for faith. And faith conquers worry every time.

 

Can’t Take Me With You December 12, 2013

Sleep has become a hot ticket item in the Schmidt house lately. The grunts and groans mom makes have increased in frequency and intensity. Something called indigestion has taken over mom’s life (or so she says). And it all has me a little bit jumpy.

Which way to the hospital?Until today. Today mom and dad went to that place called the doctor and got some good news. The baby is not in mom’s ribs anymore! In fact, my future little person has moved down into a position that is apparently quite safe for delivery.

They were talking in a bunch of numbers (something about centimeters and percentages and measurements) but it’s all Greek to me. What I gathered from the mood was this was all good news. So I should have been thrilled. Instead I felt a little betrayed.

Earlier today I wandered my way into the bag for the hospital. The good news is it is all packed up and ready to go. The bad news is there’s no room for me to be in it. I wouldn’t expect to be because of safety issues, but I realized today that’s not the real problem. The real problem is there is no room for me at the hospital either. No doggies allowed. How am I supposed to protect mom and the little person (and, let’s be honest, dad) if I am stuck at home? They rescued me. They are my people. I would be lost without them.

All of this sent me into what I guess you could call a doggie panic attack this afternoon while I waited for my people to return from the doctor. It was the closest I’ve ever come to doing something naughty (mom did leave those shoes by the back door that would have been mighty tasty). But I resisted the urge and I am so glad I did. Because when they returned with all of this good news I realized there will be no shortage of joy when they leave me behind to go to that hospital place.

And it wasn’t too long after they finished reminiscing about how soon everything will change that I saw it. A picture of me had made it’s way into the overnight bag. I don’t know how I’d missed it earlier. There I was in all my goofy glory, smiling at nothing in particular. And I felt relieved. Because I might not be able to accompany them, but I will certainly be there in spirit.

 

Rewriting the Story December 8, 2013

Thirteen. That is how many baby- and pregnancy-related books I counted in the Schmidt home today. If you ask me that is thirteen too many. Between the books and the pamphlets from the hospital and the email subscriptions and the web sites, my forever mom has become a battle bot of knowledge on all things baby.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Nothing of the sort. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – knowledge is power. But my observations lately inform me that information overload is not such a good thing either. Especially when third trimester hormones are involved. Too much information is making it very easy for her to feel overwhelmed, incapable, frustrated and fatigued. None of these are emotions I like to allow in the Schmidt home for too long if I can help it.

No more reading!But alas, my lack of opposable thumbs has kept me from removing the books from the residence. And (even if I did) she would still have all of the Internet resources at her fingertips. So you can imagine my relief when something magical happened today. The baby, my future little person, did the work for me.

It was freaky. And beautiful. And absurd. And amazing. I saw the baby move today. And it was all of these things and more to me. Mom has been seeing the little person moving for a couple of weeks now, but this was the first time I witnessed the miracle firstpaw. My stomach somersaulted when it happened, much like the baby appeared to be doing.

That’s when I realized I have nothing to worry about. There isn’t much I can do about the barrage of baby books throughout the house. (Thirteen, to be exact. But who’s counting?) Instead I have resolved to resume my stance that knowledge is power. Because I know that (like me) mom learns best by experiencing something. Living in the moment has much more profound an impact than words on a page.

So in that moment, when I could see mom’s tummy moving to and fro, I found comfort in the truth. It doesn’t matter what the baby books say. That little person will rewrite the story as soon as he or she is born. Forget the baby books. That is the story I can’t wait to start reading.

 

Joy: A Daily Dose December 5, 2013

Peanut butter, salami, bacon, ice cream and yogurt. I’m pretty sure these things would all be in the bag I would pack if I every was to head off to a deserted island (along with my forever people and Mrs. Prickles obviously). So it makes sense to me why people have employed these guilty pleasures to entice dogs into taking medicine. A spoonful of peanut butter definitely makes the medicine go down.Ready for my vitamin

I love these foods as much as the next canine, but I’ve never needed any such bait attached to my pills. If it hits the floor I’ll eat it. I’ve learned in life not to be choosy with such things. Instead, I eagerly look forward to my doggie vitamin each day. Every night before bedtime is when mom usually gives me my vitamin treat, which is apparently supposed to help me have stronger bones. I don’t know if it does any good (I certainly don’t feel any different), but smells fabulously stinky and tastes like chalky meat. I certainly don’t need it to be smothered with peanut butter to know what’s good for me.

Neither does joy, I realized tonight. It doesn’t need to be salami coated. It doesn’t have to come in pretty packages with bows. It doesn’t have to cost a dime. It’s completely and 100% free. It’s just up to you to take it, to find it in each day, just as you would with a multivitamin. And (just like with the vitamin) you might not even know if it’s working at first. But it is.

If you don’t believe me, perhaps you will believe the words of Helen Keller, whose blindness never kept her from finding her daily dose of joy. “We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world,” she said. “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

Not every day will be filled with joy. We will struggle. We will meet challenges. We will experience loss that affects us to our core. But on these days even the smallest dose of joy can make all the difference. Even if it’s not obvious (or better yet, covered in bacon), it feeds our soul in a way no multivitamin can.