Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

On Precious Moments April 12, 2014

I often wonder what it would be like if life had a remote control. If we could stop and pause and fast forward and rewind segments like I see my people do when something is particularly funny or if they need to leave the room for a few minutes. What happens when something is particularly funny in life? There’s not really a way to duplicate it again because you can’t rewind. And when times get rough? You can’t fast forward.

But I do think we have within us the capability to pause the present from time to time. To stop and appreciate a precious moment (or moments) in time that brings life into focus. I’ve heard mom say this is what the better part of the first three months of Carter’s life were like for her. In a way, she says she felt like she was in a time warp. Like somehow the world outside didn’t exist and it was only our little family enjoying each other in those (albeit) trying times. Rolling Over

I think you emerge from something like that – from a time warp, or pause in the rat race of life – a completely different person. Whether you pause for a second or for three months doesn’t matter. You see things differently. Feel things differently. Live differently.

Something I’ve found observing my little family since my beloved little person came home is that no one wants to miss anything. And (while at times) this is not always the best attribute, I do feel that it has within it a level of context that should not be misunderstood. Every moment is precious.

Baby Carter rolled over a bunch today. It didn’t seem like that big a deal to me, as I roll over all the time. But my people stopped cold – paused – and relished in what is apparently some sort of developmental milestone in a little person’s life. It was such a little thing that meant so much.

It made me think about the little moments that happen in a person’s life that make a difference. Not just for the person who decides to hit the pause button, but for whoever else happens to be around when it happens. It took me back to that fateful day when the snow fell from heaven and mom and I went outside and I didn’t know what came first – her laughter or my wagging tail.

That’s when I realized we actually have the only remote control button we really need. We have within ourselves the ability to pause to be thankful for the present that is the present. Who needs rewind and fast forward when you have the present?

 

Two Weeks Notice March 18, 2014

May 15, 2009. That’s when it started. I wasn’t around then, but I’ve heard the story dozens of times. Mom was called into that place called work (which at the time was a newspaper newsroom) and told she would be one of about half of the staff to be let go that day. She was okay with it because she knew in her heart then what she believes now. The world is our oyster.

Two weeks later, her dad died. Suddenly and unexpectedly. She didn’t get to say goodbye. So begins the blip of time that spreads over the last five years.

What to say?After a few months of helping her mom sort through the details of the estate, a new job in a completely different position in wealth management (for which she was technically incredibly unqualified) fell into her lap and she seized the opportunity to rejoin the workforce. She studied hard, learned fast, and within a couple more months earned her Series 7, 63 and life and health insurance licenses. With absolutely no prior experience or education in anything relating to finance or financial planning.

I don’t know if she believes it, but I know she can do anything she puts her mind to. Because now, five years later, it’s almost like it never happened. Literally. And yet it did. It so vividly did.

I’ve learned something through all of this – it turns out I’m pretty good at keeping secrets. First, with news of the baby, then with the sex of the baby, and now this. I’ve known for a while it was happening but I couldn’t share the good news until now.

Mom put in her two weeks notice yesterday. She will no longer be going to that place called work. Well, technically she will still be working. But I’ve always been a believer that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. And if there is something out of the ordinary that mom and I share it is our love for writing.

Alas, mom’s old beat at the newspaper just happened to open up recently. The exact same beat covering the local news in the exact same communities as she covered back in 2009. I call that a God thing. She will definitely have more time with baby Carter than if she kept her current job, while maintaining the majority of the necessary financial support I need to ensure I keep receiving the appropriate amount of dog treats and new chew toys. It’s the best of both worlds.

February 11, 2014. That’s when it started again. It’s like mom’s life hit the refresh button. As much as the job in wealth management has been good for the last few years, this is what is good right now. They say everything happens for a reason. Now I know it to be true.

 

A Sea of Gray March 13, 2014

Apparently it’s normal. But I’m not going to lie, it is kind of freaking me out. I haven’t seen mom cry this much (this randomly) since the last time we watched Marley and Me. Which, coincidentally was today. (Probably not the best idea, given her tender emotional state).

I’m just glad it doesn’t seem to involve me. Or at least it didn’t, until I involved myself. She was crying tonight (for what seems like the millionth time in the last 48 hours) as she rocked baby Carter to sleep because it’s the last time she will do so on a weeknight before she’s working again. It seems a silly reason to me, since it will clearly not be the last time she rocks my dear little person to sleep. But its all going to be different now, she told dad. This Too Shall Pass

It has definitely become one of those lose-lose situations for dad and I, since neither of us can seem to say or do anything to help. So he did what he does best and gave her a hug and a kiss on the forehead and told her we have a lifetime of nights like this ahead of us. Which made her cry more. So I did what I do best and shoved my way into the love fest. Which made her cry more. You see? Lose-lose situation.

But as I thought more about it, it’s not so much the situation itself that seems to be causing these emotions. It’s the thought of transition. The fear of the unknown. I know it all too well. As a family we have been in flux for some time now waiting for the baby to arrive and living through the first precious months, and now moving on with life involves a different kind of change. Transition. From the ground up, it can be a pretty scary thing.

It reminds me a bit of the situation in our backyard right now. As much as I love snow, I cannot stand what it looks like in transition. It’s sloppy and goopy and (worst of all) an awful dreary mixture of gray and brown. A sea of gray. Not to mention the stuff underneath that apparently used to be grass. Now it just looks like mushy brown death.

Just as this is a normal occurrence, apparently this emotional struggle mom is encountering is also fairly common. But here’s the important thing. Eventually all of the gray snow melts away. The grass doesn’t stay brown and sloppy forever. In just a few weeks time, it will be vibrant and beautiful again. My backyard paradise will be restored. The same can be said for this time we are in right now – it’s messy and emotional and that’s okay. Because I know in my heart these fears will be brought to purpose and the sun will shine again.

 

 

To Live Afresh February 11, 2014

I’m not showing off. When it comes to regrets, I just don’t have many. In fact, I think I can count them on one paw. And I can trace them back to one day. One day I wish I could relive. The day that changed my life forever.

It started like most other days of my young puppyhood – with my birth mom bringing my two brothers and I scraps from the garbage of a nearby restaurant. I remember snatching away the last bit of bread crust from my brothers. It was so petty of me – and though I wouldn’t know it until later, I regret it to this day.

Because that’s the last meal my little family would share before it happened. That was the day we got separated. The day we were on the road and the car just came at us so fast. When I saw it coming, I ran and didn’t look back. That was my single most painful regret. I never looked back.

CozyInstead, I ran back to what I considered home base and waited for my family that would never return. I dream of them often, my brothers and my birth mom, and what happened to them that day. I pray they ran away just like I did. I pray they stayed together and lived long and happy lives. But I will never know for sure. And it eats away at my little doggie heart every time I think of it.

Then, almost as soon as it is broken, it is whole again. Because if that hadn’t happened, if I had paused for even another second, I have no idea what would have happened. I don’t regret running. I regret not looking back.

“Make the most of your regrets,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau, “never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

I know my mom wouldn’t have wanted me to live afresh in my regret. Because she would have wanted me to embrace life in that moment. She would have wanted me to run. And I know she would be proud. Because every decision I’ve made since that one has led me to where I am today.

 

Living in A Moment January 11, 2014

I’m not complaining. I want to be clear about that. But I’m not going to lie. While I am overwhelmed with joy for the major life change my people have embarked upon, it kind of frightens me a little. All right, I’ll be honest. It frightens me a lot.

ChallengeI knew it would happen eventually, but I didn’t expect it to happen this fast. Mom and dad have thrown caution to the wind. Forget the baby books. Put aside the message boards. Just as I knew would happen, Carter is writing a book of his own. And I can’t say my people seem to happy with the outcome.

When mom was pregnant, dad used to joke that he wished she could give birth to a toddler. Though it would be physically impossible, it seemed appealing then to be able to fast forward through the “tough” newborn stuff and get right to the talking, walking trouble that comes with little people who are about two people years old. That way at least they can tell us what they need, he said.

Meanwhile, any and every caring friend and family member concurs. Much of the advice and suggestions align with each other, but one has stood out to me. This too shall pass, but cherish these moments. He will only be little like this for a short time. They grow up so fast.

If dogs could talk I would echo these words. It hasn’t been easy, but as American hockey coach Herb Brooks suggested moments of challenge represent opportunities for success. “Great moments are born from great opportunities,” he said. Because let’s face it. Fast forward is no way to live.

 

It Goes On October 15, 2013

I’ve heard it all before. If only I’d seen it coming. I should have planned for that. Hindsight is 20/20. Regrets. Somehow knowing everyone has them doesn’t make the ones we have any less real. I know the great and thoughtful “they” say misery loves company. In this case I’m not so sure.

Deep ThinkingTonight I stared up at the clear night sky dreaming about my future as a big brother. I’m going to love him or her as big as the sky, that much I know. And we’re going to be best friends forever (obviously). But I know my purpose in the life of this little purpose will be bigger than that. I’ve learned a lot in my five people years of life and I can’t wait to share everything. People can learn a lot from how us canines process things, after all.

Like regrets, for example. I have them. And I remember the day of my biggest one like it was yesterday. The day I was separated from my mom and brothers comes to mind instantly. There we were in the middle of oncoming traffic and I ran. I didn’t look back. I’ll never know what happened behind me that day. And it would haunt me to this day if I let it. If I let it. I think that’s the key to all of this regret business.

I doubt I’m the only one who’s biggest regret somehow involves the loss of a loved one. Be it a conversation that was cut off, misconstrued, or never even happened at all, many of us have experienced a sudden loss and wished there was something we could change about those last precious moments together. And we all know (all too well) there is nothing we can do. We can’t repeat the past, but we can live the present.

And in my present I chose to learn from my experience. I learned to hold loved ones close because you never know when that last embrace might be. But living life in constant fear of impending doom won’t get us anywhere either any more than regret will bring them back. Instead, seize the day regardless of the circumstances.

If you’re fortunate enough to be surrounded with loved ones, let them know what they mean to you. That’s something I want to teach my little person. But (perhaps more importantly), I want him or her to know that it’s not the end of the world if the worst does happen. You might not be able to hold that person close right now, but it doesn’t mean you can’t hold them forever in your heart. In lessons like this, sometimes we learn that in life’s greatest regrets lie some of life’s greatest opportunities for personal growth.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life,” as great American poet Robert Frost put it, “it goes on.” More often than not, we don’t see it coming. We didn’t plan for that. And that darned hindsight thing taps us on the shoulder. But somehow, no matter how grim the regret may seem, life does go on.

Related posts:

To read the whole story of my biggest regret – The Day Forever Changed http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/09/01/the-day-forever-changed/