Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Family Ties March 19, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 8:30 pm
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There is wagging. And there is screeching. It’s the same for most visitors to my forever home these days. They are greeted as they always have been with my enthusiasm, followed almost immediately by a happily squealing dear baby Carter.

Today was no different as we got a visit from great grandma and great auntie. There was wagging and screeching. (Also, they brought yummy smelling food, so there may have been some jumping). They came to visit mom and Carter after not seeing us for a couple months. And it was nice.Family

Not just because I scored table scraps from more than one person (who will remain anonymous to ensure similar behavior in the future) or because it was simply a joy to see them. It was nice because time has no bearing with family. Sure, it’s been too long since we’d all been together. But you couldn’t have guessed it.

Love. From the ground up, it filled my forever home today as we primarily all watched Carter engage in various toddler antics. He sampled his first donut (which means I sampled it too, of course). He showed them his old room where the new baby is going to be in a couple months. He ripped his socks off and put them on his hands (much to the dismay of great grandma). And they laughed.

Best of all, the love didn’t only fill the air. It filled my heart. Both guests made a point to take some time to give me pets in all of my favorite places. This warmed my heart even more since a lot of visitors who are not around my home very often focus entirely on dear Carter. Though it doesn’t bother me, it certainly is nice to be the center of attention again, even if it is only for a few minutes every now and then.

My time today with the wagging and squealing and laughing brought to life the words of American actor Michael J. Fox, who suggested “family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”

 

The Best Kind of Medicine March 14, 2015

I find it happens in the most curious of ways. Or sometimes for no good reason at all. Laughter. From the ground up, it’s true what the imperviously mysterious “they” say about it being a contagion. At least that’s what I have witnessed around my forever home.

Lately, a formerly thoughtful giggler known as dear baby Carter has evolved into a much more boisterous and free-spirited fountain of laughs. I know just what I can do to get him going. For the most part, so do mom and dad. Even he seems to know that if he runs a certain path through our home or has a conversation with a sock he carefully fixed onto his hand, it will bring joy to his heart.Good News, All!

Yet it seems each new day something new brings out the gleeful sound. Today it was mom’s foot. She got him in his tummy with her toes by mistake, and that set of a long and fulfilling session of laughs that even I got involved with.

It made me realize how important it is to be open minded about joy. As he giggled with delight in a game of chase, I found myself wondering what the world would be like if everyone could find something new to giggle about each day. I personally laugh (and smile) with my tail, so I’m not sure what good that does for me.

But later this afternoon, I overheard mom talking with dad about the physical and mental health benefits to laughter, like how a minute or two of laughter can relieve tension and stress in the body for up to 45 minutes. It boosts the immune system, releases what mom called a “happy hormone,” and protects the heart. Sounds like a win-win to me.

So today I find myself feeling so grateful for my silly little person and all the laughter he brings into my forever home. Even if it does happen in the most curious of ways, or sometimes for no good reason at all. Laughter. From the ground up, it’s the best kind of medicine around.

 

 

Sweet Emotion March 11, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:25 pm
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It can literally happen in the blink of an eye. It certainly did today, countless times. In one moment, a joyous and bubbly giggle fills the air of my forever home. In the next, one of the world’s happiest sounds is replaced by a soul-crushing scream of anguish.

I do find it happening a bit more frequently lately, with all the teething going on around here. I think that’s what led to the roller coaster of emotions I witnessed today, with the tears and the giggles somehow creating a symphony of emotional reality. Teething is not our friend

As dear baby Carter approached bed time, a time when he should have been pretty tired after not napping at all today, he exuded energy. And as I watched him run through the house with his bare legs hanging out (because his pants had already gotten changed twice, and it was warm enough for such silliness again today), squealing with joy, I couldn’t help it. Somehow that moment seemed to erase all the other not so happy ones scattered randomly throughout the day from my mind.

I realized, as the squeals evolved into more of a squeal/laugh combination, that is the magic of this emotional dichotomy. We all experience it in our daily life, but time has a way of training us to keep it inside. Time has yet to do that to Carter, who literally wears his heart on his (usually blueberry-stained) sleeve. So he laughs and cries and questions and thinks and laughs and cries some more (all in the span of 30 seconds) in a very public way.

Google SearchingThough it pains me to experience sometimes, I’m thankful to frequently bear witness to the emotional roller coaster ride of toddlerhood. Because it can literally happen in the blink of an eye. Laughter can become tears that quickly.

But, even better, tears can become laughter that quickly. And that’s life. Things have a way of happening that can sometimes take us by surprise. They can rock the emotional boat enough to completely change the tide. Taking control of the boat and immediately turning it back the right way? That’s a life worth living.

 

All Toasty Inside February 14, 2015

It’s one of those things you almost had to see to believe. And I had no idea what was happening until it was too late.

My fur froze today. It honest-to-goodness turned into icicles. I had just finished drinking up the majority of the contents of my water bowl before going outside and I swear it only took a matter of a second or two. That frigid cold Wisconsin winter air hit my wet chin furs and bam! Chin fur icicles. I’ve experienced some epic cold days, but I can’t say I remember that ever happening before. Me and My Shadow

At a high temperature hovering around a whopping seven degrees, it was the coldest Valentine’s Day I can remember experiencing. And I’m not going to lie. It kind of put a damper on things. There was a variety of local festivals and other events to keep the whole family busy today, but my forever family wanted nothing to do with any of that.

Usually my people make an elaborate surf and turf dinner together in the kitchen or they go out to a fancy restaurant. This year they ordered a heart-shaped delivery pizza and called it good enough.

I know my mom well enough to know that she increasingly frustrated as the day went on that nothing was going according to tradition. Disappointment. From the ground up, it would definitely qualify as one of my least favorite people emotions.

But that seemed to change tonight as we made some new traditions. Though I gathered the pizza itself to be a bit underwhelming, the idea of it was something they had a lot of fun with. Carter had a nice long nap this afternoon, so he was a hyper little bundle of joy who earned himself an extra hour of playtime before bed with all the smiling and crazy giggling he was doing.

It might not sound like the picture-perfect romantic celebration to everyone. And that’s fine. But I know that this will qualify as one of those days we not only cherish now, but will all look back on fondly someday. Because it may have been cold enough to turn my fur into tiny little icicles outside, but the love in my home made it all toasty inside. To me that’s what love day should really be about.

 

Don’t Say Anything At All January 25, 2015

You are as young as you feel. It’s a thought I’ve frequently embraced with my whole heart, often appreciating the idea of keeping all things silly a part of life for as long as possible. It keeps you young, in my opinion, to be able to laugh with others, or even at yourself sometimes.

But this is crossing the line. There’s being in touch with your inner child and there’s this. Being a child for no good reason at all isn’t funny. It isn’t necessary. And it certainly doesn’t keep you young. It’s despicable really, but that doesn’t change that it happens. Being a grown up

It happened yesterday to a family friend of ours. He’s a dad above all else, and he was so incredibly proud of his baby girl (who he fondly still calls Ladybug even though she’s eight people years old these days) taking the stage in a play the last couple of weekends. Last night was the last show, and he couldn’t wait to cheer his little Ladybug on.

His ex-wife offered to buy tickets for everyone going, which (much to his surprise) included her new boyfriend and her dad and his new girlfriend. Our friend was the odd man out. Literally. His ex-wife didn’t even buy him a ticket with the rest of the group. Instead, he sat by himself in a sea of strangers. And he wasn’t invited to the big dinner celebration following the show either.

But the disappointment that filled his heart didn’t keep him from doing what he does best when he finally saw his Ladybug after the show and after the dinner he wasn’t invited to. In spite of the childish behavior that set the stage for the evening, he was a dad to his little girl. He told her he was proud of her and read her bedtime stories before putting her to bed all-too-soon after she arrived at his house.

Unlike his ex-wife, he put his feelings aside to make the most of it for his little girl. Regardless of the circumstances, I think that’s what I’m coming to understand parenthood is all about. And it’s a beautiful thing, being a grown up. Being a parent.

So I guess there are some exceptions to the rule about being as young as you feel. Some really are as young as they feel because they choose to embrace the silliness of their inner child. Others are just children stuck inside the bodies of adults. I don’t know what caused the childish behavior yesterday. But I do know that being the bigger person doesn’t make you any less young at heart. And, for what it’s worth, I’m proud of my friend for doing the right thing. For being the bigger person. For being a dad.

 

 

Giggles All The Way December 12, 2014

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this news update. That’s kind of how I felt tonight when it happened. All the usual suspects were together in the basement engaging in our usual nighttime shenanigans.

There was laughter and happiness and joy. And love. From the ground up, it’s come to be a pretty happy time of day in the Schmidt home. We were a couple minutes into the usual game of pickle in the middle – the one where I chase a toy as mom and dad throw it back and forth between themselves and dear baby Carter giggles the night away – when routine took a turn for novelty.Happy!!!!

Carter made himself the pickle. In the best and most adorable kind of way I could have imagined. My role turned from active to passive, as I stood by and watched it all unfold. Sure, he had the toy we had been playing with a few minutes earlier. But the game was not about that anymore.

He walked from mom to dad. And from dad to mom. And from mom to dad. Over and over. I would say he did that about a dozen times before he moved on to the next game as it is my understanding 11-month-olds do. In itself, I suppose it probably doesn’t sound like anything special.

But there was laughter and happiness and joy and love involved. A whole lot of love. Because it wasn’t jut about walking back and forth between our beloved forever parents. As he walked toward dad, he giggled and smiled his biggest kind of smile as dad opened his arms and did the same. When he turned around and mom giggled and smiled and opened her arms, he smiled and giggled as he made his return journey. And every time he made it to his destination, there was hugging involved.

It was quite the sight to see, even if it did interrupt my regularly scheduled programming for the evening. I might have missed out on the remainder of my game of pickle in the middle, but this was so much better. This was joy, from the ground up.

 

Silly Little Games December 1, 2014

I feel like I should be a little hurt. Something has been happening pretty frequently around here lately, and I can’t say I particularly appreciate the implications. Mostly because it is complete and utter nonsense. I would never in a million years purposely hurt my dear little Carter. Yet I am fairly convinced my beloved forever people think I would.

There’s this game we play together that makes mom and dad uncharacteristically anxious about Carter’s physical proximity to me. I think it’s funny. Carter thinks it’s funny. My people? Not so much.Best Buddies

It all started when Carter began assimilating what toys are mine and what toys are his. He’s even taken to handing (or sometimes throwing) me toys he knows are mine. We have developed an unspoken truce between us to respect each other’s things. In general, I stay away from all of his noisy, lighted button-y things and he stays away from Mrs. Prickles. In general.

That is, with the exception of our game. He will give me a toy, I will play with it, I make playful noises as he tries to get it back, and he laughs. It’s all totally harmless. Except that I guess my noises sound intimidating to my people, which inevitably brings our fun to a sudden and dramatic halt.

Truth be told, I love that I have found another way to make Carter giggle. His laughter makes my people happy, which in turn brings me the sincerest kind of joy. And in my own little way, I feel like this game allows us to “talk” to each other. But my people don’t like it and today I stopped to contemplate why.

Mostly I feel like I should be a little hurt. Because I’m a believer in the words of Scottish poet George MacDonald, who once said “to be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” And, in most ways, I know without a doubt the trust they have in their hearts for me.

So I tried to put myself in their shoes. To see where they’re coming from. And, as much as I trust them with all of my heart, I realized exactly why they feel the way they do. Because that’s how I feel about them. If anything, or anyone, made a sound (or action) like I do when Carter and I are playing our game, I would probably attack them. I love my people too much to ask questions. That’s how they feel for Carter.

I suppose I could let myself feel hurt over this. Instead, I feel blessed. Because just as I know they feel that way about Carter, I believe they feel that way about me. Between that, and knowing I never would dream of hurting anyone in my forever family, I’d say I’m in pretty good shape.

 

Glowing in the Dark November 25, 2014

It doesn’t make sense. I have never and will never understand it. I will, however, question why this trick of nature happens every year. Here we are in the midst of all things holiday and literally speaking it is the darkest time of year.

The sun seems to rise later and set sooner every single day. That means less sunshine, which (at least from what I can tell) means less happy people. None of this is good news in my world. It’s also not the worst news, because I make it a point of mine in life to be a light amid the darkness in whatever way possible. This thing called daylight savings time will not break me down.

My faith in the power of one’s inner light was renewed tonight as I watched as another bought of silliness unfolded between my forever parents and dear baby Carter.Hard at Work

There we were, the four of us, in the darkness of the basement. I was sure either mom or dad would turn the lights on eventually. Instead they grabbed out these little sticks and I listened as they cracked them to life. I’m not sure of the correlation between the cracking sound and what happened next, but I suppose some things are best left to mystery anyway. Within a few seconds, the room was dimly lit by little florescent glow sticks, which brought far more joy to everyone involved than I would have ever expected.

The fun continued as mom suggested Carter have a glow-in-the-dark bath time. He loved every minute of it. He was happy. Mom and dad were happy. I was happy.

It doesn’t make sense to me why there is so much darkness during such an otherwise joyful time of year. But that’s okay. It sounds silly, but the glow-in-the-dark games tonight reminded me it’s possible not just to let your light shine, but to find new ways to do it. Routine has its perks, but switching it up from time to time is good for the soul. How you choose to shine ultimately doesn’t matter. What matters is that you shine at all.

Because as Dutch Renaissance humanist Desiderius Erasmus put it “give light and the darkness will disappear.”

 

Just Keep Chugging November 9, 2014

All aboard! I hear that a lot in my forever home these days as children’s television frequently features choo choo trains as my forever mom calls them. There’s even this one channel I’ve taken to watching with dear baby Carter occasionally that features a choo choo train song every couple of hours. It encourages the little people watching to get up and dance to the music. Though I’m not sure my little person understands those words, he’s always had a thing for music.

Dance, dance dance, mom will say, and he will jiggle and wiggle his little self all over the place. When he does it is honestly like the world stops and there is nothing but the silliness unfolding in the living room. It’s especially entertaining when he hears certain songs, like what they feature on the choo choo boogie or whatever its called.

Fearsome Foursome

Car ride to the dog park? Joy.

Well all of that became very real for Carter today as he journeyed with mom and dad to something called a train show. I don’t know much about these things, but I can only assume two things. There were trains. And there was dancing at the sight and sound of them.

It all got me to thinking about my music. About my trains in life, if you will. We all have things that make us tick, that keep us going, or that fill us with such exuberance that we can’t help but dance for joy. For me, its pretty simple. Time at the dog park, or on a car ride, or in my backyard paradise tend to do the trick. Time with my beloved family? Well, that’s a given. But laughter? Humor itself coming alive like it does when Carter does his silly little jig? That might be one of the most precious jewels of joy I’ve come across in life.

“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers,” suggested American comedian Bill Cosby. “And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”

Now it’s my turn to say the words. All aboard! I think its due time (assuming you haven’t already done so recently) to reevaluate our joys in life. What are the things that keep us chugging along through the challenges? Sometimes they might not seem that important, but that is most likely when they’re most important. We need to identify these things and embrace them for all they’re worth, because I believe we have them for a reason. We have these things not just to survive, but to live.

 

Let It Take You Over October 22, 2014

Nothing went wrong. Nothing spectacular happened either. It was pretty much your average day around the Schmidt house today. Dad went to that place called work. Mom cared for dear baby Carter when she wasn’t working. Carter was in good spirits. All was well around here.

So when it happened this afternoon, it brought an unexpected smile to my heart.

Carter has taken to spending time with dad when he gets home from work. It’s like he’s soaking up all the dad time he can, since he doesn’t see him as much as mom and I. Today was no exception, as he clung to dad while mom finished making dinner. That’s when that magic thing happened again. To me there is really other logical explanation for the emotional vacation the spirit takes when a good song makes an appearance in one’s day. Music. From the ground up, it touches the soul in a way words alone cannot.

Please let me preface this by saying dad, in general, is not a giggly person. And he doesn’t particularly care for dancing. But when One Republic’s “Good Life” came on the radio as mom was cooking and dad was holding Carter, what happened next really was its own slice of goofiness. I think dad thought mom wouldn’t see, but she has a way of noticing these kinds of things. Namely, she could hear both dad and Carter giggling like ninnies, so there was no way she wasn’t going to investigate the cause.

The scene in the living room was one that would have brought a smile to anyone’s heart. There dad was, with Carter, dancing around like a ninny to a song about living a good life. “When you’re happy like a fool, let it take you over,” Ryan Tedder sings. “When everything is out, you gotta take it in.” Good Life

That is exactly what mom and I did in that moment. As dad was happy like a fool, we took it in. And, in doing so, we were happy little fools too.

Today was just another day. Nothing went wrong. Nothing spectacular happened. It was definitely a pretty average day around the Schmidt house. That is, until that moment, when joy came alive at the hand of music and reminded us we are, indeed, living the good life.