Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Even Though It’s Breaking April 5, 2014

It’s always been my job. So I jump. I do the head move where I use my face to snuggle my way into a petting situation. I wag. I cuddle. But it seems I’ve been replaced.

I realized it today when mom was getting emotional about the knee news again and dad shoved baby Carter in her face. Literally. One minute, he was holding my three-month-old little person, and seconds later mom was. You probably had to be there to appreciate the randomness of the handoff. It was so quick and so incredibly unexpected in that moment. So much so that Carter’s little head bumped mom’s lip into her teeth and she started bleeding. And I know it hurt her. And Carter for that matter.

But in that moment it didn’t matter. Because in that moment baby Carter smiled. He looked right in her eyes and smiled that big goofy toothless grin of his. And she smiled. And dad smiled. In that moment all kinds of frowns were turned upside down. Smiley Dog

And it had nothing to do with me. It was something I had been failing to do for more than 24 hours. And a teeny tiny (selfish) part of me was pretty disappointed that it wasn’t me who finally got through to them. But after all the tears that have been shed, seeing all those beautiful smiles at once was enough to bring my priorities back into focus.

It goes to show something I’ve often commented about – the power of a smile. From the ground up, it is the very personification of joy. I’ve always taken pride in my ability to make my people smile. So I jump and do the head move and wag and cuddle. None of that did any good today. But Carter, who may or may not know the power of a smile at his tender young age, held the power today. And I’m okay with that.

Because in that moment I heard the voice of Nat King Cole. “Smile though your heart is aching, smile even though it’s breaking…if you smile through your fear and sorrow, smile and maybe tomorrow you’ll see the sun come shining through…if you just smile.”

 

A Living Emotion April 4, 2014

Today I was confronted with a conundrum. Happiness is a living emotion, as a favorite author of mine Sarah Ban Breathnach would say. The optimist in me believes this as truth. Yet today I encountered another living emotion. Or six.

Sadness. Grief. Devastation. Complete and utter dismay. My arsenal of positivity was not strong enough to battle these things today. I failed and I’m not afraid to admit it. It has happened before, but I don’t think it’s ever been quite this bad. Maybe it’s because I can’t say I blame them.

Mom got bad news today. Really bad news. Epically bad news. That little slip on the ice about a month ago that the doctor hoped was just a sprain? Some test called an MRI showed otherwise. It’s a torn ACL. I don’t know much about these things other than that is what mom talked so much about with her other knee before surgery the last time.

And I was here. I saw how bad it was. Mom has (not-so-jokingly) said it was worse than recovery from labor. I don’t know what happened when they went to that hospital place three months ago, but I can’t imagine it was pretty. She was there for days, after all. The knee surgery was only an outpatient procedure. She was back home the same day. And she cried. All the time. I remember her crying out in pain in the middle of the night. It was bad. wpid-20140309_115645.jpg

So the thought of it happening again has taken our whole home by complete shock. She will be completely immobile for at least a week or two. Fortunately the damage is nothing near as bad as it was in the other knee, but the doctor still estimates the recovery time as about the same as last time. How on Earth will she do the thing that matters most to her in the whole world right now? How will she take care of our little person?

These are among what I would call the big picture questions my people were asking themselves tonight. That, and a question that broke my little doggie heart. How will we ever get ahead, dad asked to no one in particular. Mom cried at the thought. It’s like I’m on a hamster wheel, she said. Every time I think I’ll break free, something holds me back and I keep spinning in useless circles. I might not care much for hamsters (as it’s in my nature as a terrier not to), but the concept of their wheel is one that has always made me a little sad.

Today sadness was the emotion living in our house. Try as I might, I realized there are some things even my best tricks can’t fix. This is a pretty awful situation. These things happen. But life goes on. If I had a message for my beloved forever people on this day of days, that would be it. Life goes on. This too shall pass. It sucks. I won’t say it doesn’t. But life will keep plodding on, and I will be here to remind them of that each and every day.

 

The End of The Tunnel March 10, 2014

Everyone was doing it today. Families I’d never seen before. All my neighbor dog buddies. Children of all ages. Entire classes from the school nearby. After what has arguably been one of the very worst winters in recent history, the thermometer broke 50 degrees today for the first time in months. I can honestly say I can’t remember when the weather was so beautiful. And the world around me went outside to enjoy it. All-the-while I watched from my perch in the windowsill.

If the circumstances were different, I would probably have let this fact get me down. I’ve been just as cooped up as they have, I thought, why can’t I get out for a walk today? Oh that’s right. Mom’s knee is injured. Again. Alas, my mission to bring joy to her was back in focus. Just in time for me to realize someone had already stolen the show.

Baby Carter was especially smiley this morning – an increasingly frequent occurrence I’m finding brings much joy to my forever family and therefore brings much joy to me. He smiled and smiled and giggled a little and smiled for whole hours at a time. It’s like he too sensed mom needed cheering up.

That is until she returned from the doctor with good news. It’s probably only a sprain, according to the doctor, which means everything should be back to normal within a few weeks. No scary surgery. No awful recovery time. And she was given the all clear to carry Carter again without worrying herself to death that her knee might buckle and she could drop him.

All of this is not without its drawbacks, as she will need to rest for the next couple of weeks and shouldn’t try to get up from a chair or rocker while holding Carter. She still shouldn’t be kneeling to give Cater his bath. And, just in time for the weather to finally warm up, she shouldn’t be taking any long walks for a while.

I know everyone else was doing it today. Everyone but me. But that’s okay because it could be a lot worse. And I’ve made it this far through this terrible winter. What’s another couple of weeks? I’m just happy joy has been restored around here. From the ground up, that’s what really matters in my book anyway.

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On Thin Ice March 8, 2014

Stunned disbelief. That’s what’s going on in the Schmidt home tonight. And it’s not the good kind.

Mom slipped on some ice in the driveway of my forever home today. I watched in horror from my lead in the backyard as she fell down hard like she used to before she got her leg fixed. Except this was her other leg. This was the leg she has relied on the last two years to keep her strong and stable while the other knee went through the ringer. This was the leg that got her through the terrible surgery to reconstruct the ACL, MCL and meniscus of her other leg. Feeling Blue

And now it seems the worst may have happened. When she described the incident to dad, she said her leg bent the wrong way and she heard a funny popping sound before it buckled underneath her. I’ve never experienced such a thing, but I know what it was like for mom the last time she did, and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Let alone on my beloved forever mom.

I don’t know what to do for her. She hasn’t stopped crying all night. She seems so afraid. Afraid to walk. Afraid to fall down. Afraid to walk or fall down while holding baby Carter. She couldn’t bathe him like always tonight, or put him to bed. She couldn’t sway with him in the hallway as he cried. And it is breaking my heart.

All I can do is hope. Hope that it’s not as bad as she thinks. Hope that when the pain goes away, the knee will somehow stabilize itself again. Because emotions are on thin ice around here right now and I feel helpless. At least I have hope. Sometimes that’s all you need.

 

Recipe for an Unforgettable Day November 12, 2013

Some days are imprinted on our minds as if they were yesterday. Others blur and fade. And, every now and then, life hands us a combination of both. I’ve noticed that heightened emotions and extreme situations in the same day create a recipe for the kind of day that you’ll never forget with moments that you struggle to remember.

Like what happened to my mom one year ago today. I knew something was awry that morning when she and dad interrupted our usual sleep routine to go to the hospital well before most people wake for the day. It was still dark outside, and (unfortunately) there was a sense of darkness in both of them. Fear. It haunted us that day.

I worried the entire time they were gone, and my worry met its match when they returned. It was about eight hours later, but may as well have been eight months the way I saw it. Nothing could have prepared me for the days that followed.Hope Floats

There is a sound us canines make when we’re in pain. Mom hates it. It’s akin to a screech or a squeal, and it communicates that we are in intensely extreme discomfort. I don’t make it often, but when I do it’s usually because someone stepped on my paw or my tail. And I immediately seek some sort of acknowledgment from the person since I know they couldn’t have meant to hurt me.

Mom was the embodiment of the people version of that sound those few days after surgery. She had something called knee reconstruction surgery, where the doctor apparently grafted her a new ACL, repaired an incredibly shredded MCL and did a repair on a horizontal tear on her meniscus he only does in 5% of cases. Whatever all that means didn’t matter to me.

What did matter was the immediate aftermath, and the painful recovery that followed. I hated every minute of it. Worse yet, I hated to see dad struggle to take care of her and somehow (at the same time) shield her from how afraid he really was. Fear. I know that’s part of the reason mom kept crying out in the night. She was afraid. And so was I. It was disarming for me to see my people, my rocks, seem to be crumbling around me.

Those days, those fearful days, are imprinted on our minds and hearts forever. Yet, with time, they blur and fade. But what I remember most from the heightened emotions is what I am most thankful for today. We got through it. We persevered. And now look at us. Here we are a year later with a little person on the way. Mom’s knee (almost never) bothers her anymore. All of this stands to show – fear is no match for hope.

 

Happiness Defined January 7, 2013

I tried something new today. I was thinking about living my gratitude, so I started the day with Simple Abundance and didn’t tell anyone about it. I read about taking note of things that make me happy and was reminded of my commitment to be a lantern of love for my mom this year. So I took notes of things that made her happy today and the strangest thing happened. A little while ago, she was talking to my grandma (her mom), who paid me the very highest of compliments (without even knowing it). Mom had grandma on speakerphone so I could hear the conversation…Mom laughed and her mom stopped the conversation cold and took notice.

“It’s so nice to hear you laughing,” grandma said, “It makes me happy knowing you’re so happy.” Even I could hear the implications of what she was saying. She hadn’t heard my mom laugh like that in a while. She was taking notice of that. And that made me happy. Funny how that works.

Its not like today was anything that spectacular, but that’s not what matters. Today I was looking…watching everything that made mom smile. “What is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living,” Breathnach writes. “…Let us consider our personal preferences and learn how to recognize, then embrace, moments of happiness that are uniquely our own.”

Silly as this list may sound, here it is:

1. Working out. We woke up at a decent time, she got on this new bicycle contraption we have in the bedroom and she spent some time one it. Then, its like her contagious happiness spread to me. We went for our first walk since she had her leg surgery. It was short, but I loved it. And so did she. I could tell because I know we walked farther than she probably enjoyed. I could tell because on the way back home, she walked with a bigger limp than when we left home. But it didn’t affect her smile.

On the Road Again2. Car ride. Two of my favorite people words together in one happy phrase. The car ride followed her time on the bicycle and our walk. I love car rides. Mom knows that. She smiled when I tried to get into the driver’s seat with her, even though I know I’m not supposed to and she had to push me away right away.

3. Yummy food. When we got back from our car ride, she spent some time in the kitchen, which I know is one of her happy places. She made some sort of chicken-scented goodness that smelled like heaven, and when she was done eating, you’d better believe I scavenged for the leftovers like never before. And mom smiled all the while. Happiness: Its a Hard Knock Life

4. Friends. She talked to a few friends whose names I recognized today. She smiled the whole time.

5. Insightful movies. We watched them together. The first one was called Butter, which (I know) sounds ridiculous, but it was surprisingly adorable. I do quite enjoy butter (I’ve been known to lick it off towels in private after mom has put a pie in the oven), but the plotline was equally enticing. Then there was this movie Ruby Sparks. It opened with what promised to be a charming tale of a writer and his dog…so you can see why I would be intrigued. As an aspiring writer myself, it was a love-at-first-sight kind of love story. It ends back in the hands of the writer and his dog, and among many insightful things, the writer says “Any writer can attest that in the luckiest, happiest state the words are not coming from you, but through you.” Mom cried at the end.

A Dog and his Work

I learned something with my little experiment today. Happiness is contagious.