Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

On Everything and Nothing March 31, 2015

It starts the same every time. I can see it in the eyes of my dear forever mom from the moment she wakes. This is going to be a good day, she thinks. Today I will get it all done.

I have to say it has intensified since she became a mom to dear baby Carter. I guess it makes sense since he is a reason the list itself is naturally longer now than it was before. From laundry to doctors appointments to simply cleaning up after the messes a toddler tornado can make in a day, he is his very own list maker. Joy

Today was no different, as she set out to accomplish x, y, z for work, and clean the house and take Carter to the doctor over lunch, squeeze in a run to the store, accomplish a, b, c for work and make dinner. In itself, it wasn’t that unheard of for her to think she could do it all. Except that she’s still sick. And Carter is a little sick. And none of that is as easy to accomplish under those circumstances.

It hit her hard around 3 p.m. when she realized basically the only things that got done were x, y, z for work and Carter’s doctor appointment. The visit to the store was a failure, since she forgot the two things she went for in the first place. And she hadn’t had a second to eat a proper breakfast or lunch, let alone give a second thought to dinner or cleaning the house.

It ends the same every time. There’s a sense of defeat in the air and I can feel mom’s heavy heart weighing on her as if it were my own.

The thing is, I know she knows it as well as I do: the problem is sometimes “it” is legitimately impossible. Sometimes the list literally is too long to achieve. Sometimes you can’t do it all. And that’s okay. Because sometimes when you feel like you got nothing done, it means you got everything done you were meant to that day. And everything is always better than nothing.

 

 

A Story About Some Shoes March 18, 2015

For me it’s things like my increasing supply of treats from dear baby Carter. And the constant supply of food and water in my bowls. And a forever family that loves me. Sometimes I honestly can’t even picture life without these things. Yet I do also recognize that these things that feel like givens in my life are not necessarily that.

Today I scored an exceptional amount of treats. From strawberries to blueberries to string cheese bits and goldfish crackers, I had it all. I do appreciate how blessed I am to have a little person that loves me enough to share his food with me. Yet I do think it is one of a few things in life I have come to take for granted. Feeling the Love

So when I happened to overhear a story about shoes today, I felt a tug at my heart strings. Mom was talking with someone about shoes, which seemed like something of an odd topic to me at first. Sure, mom likes shoes as much as the next person, but this sounded different.

Apparently the person she was talking to is collecting shoes. And not like a New Yorker would collect Jimmy Choos. She is collecting them for people who don’t have any shoes. She is in the process of organizing a local shoe drive to collect shoes to donate to people who don’t have shoes in Ecuador. People who don’t have shoes in Ecuador. It took me a bit to process that.

Shoes. From the ground up, I’ve never had much use for the things myself. I know my people each have their fair share of shoes. Even dear baby Carter has started wearing shoes in recent months due to his increased range of activity. To think of them leaving the house without shoes on is such a foreign concept to me.

Yet apparently there are people out there who simply don’t have shoes. Period. To them it’s not a matter of whether pumps or flats work better with an outfit. Or if the black shoes really need to match the black belt.

It made me stop and think twice as I accepted Carter’s strawberries before bedtime tonight. And as I feasted on my food and water. And as I snuggled up to my dear forever people as they watched some television together. There is so much in my life I could so easily take for granted. Instead I was reminded today to pause and appreciate life’s simple little things.

 

A Man’s Best Medicine March 10, 2015

It’s not the first time it’s happened, but it might be the most memorable time to date.

“Today this little guy doesn’t have many big thoughts. Instead I have gratitude.”

Two years ago (almost to the day), I spoke these words in reference to a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It was 40 degrees, and I was cold, but it was the first time my dear forever mom and I got outside for a decent walk since before her knee surgery. Recovery from that surgery was an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, so it was especially meaningful for us to hit the road again that day. A beautiful day

Today it happened again. Recovery wasn’t an issue this time, unless you count the emotional recovery from the winter doldrums we Wisconsinites all experienced for the last several months.

Instead it was simply joy. From the ground up, that is what filled my heart when dad (of all people) said the magic words. “Do you want to go for a walk?” I’m never sure why he and mom ask me such silly questions when they already know the answer.

Off we went, dear baby Carter and mom and dad and I, together, on a quick jaunt through the neighborhood. It was almost 60 degrees this time, and (while I love my alone time with mom) it was nice to be with everyone. Carter babbled in a language only he (and sometimes mom) understands the entire way. And mom and dad laughed, happy to be breathing in the fresh spring air.

Ancient Greek physician and philosopher Hippocrates took it so far as to suggest that “walking is man’s best medicine.” Today I soaked up the medicine, just as I did two years ago. And in doing so, I must have brought my mental motion to a halt because all I could think was how happy I was to be on the road again. Gratitude.

From the ground up, today I find myself thankful. Thankful for the weather. And the sunshine. And the way it warms hearts and minds. But, even more so, thankful for the people that bring it all to life.

 

The Winter Doldrums Cure March 6, 2015

I know it happens in the winter months around here. It’s one of those things I have gotten used to, living where I do in the fine state of Wisconsin. And, as much as I might prefer to whine and moan about it, I know it’s for my own good.

From late October through some mysterious time in spring, I simply don’t spend much time outside. My time in my backyard paradise gets limited primarily to practical things, and my dear forever mom and I don’t walk the neighborhood much. If at all. Car rides are also limited. And the dog park? Forget about it. It’s a wasteland anyway, because a lot of other pet parents feel the same way about having their dogs out in negative-degree temperatures. Running Joy

So when mom said the magic words this morning, my heart about jumped out of my chest. (Especially because I also heard her say it was seven degrees outside a few minutes prior). Car ride. From the ground up, it is one of my favorite things to hear. Off we went, mom, dear baby Carter and I, on a car ride to the groomer.

It’s a place I like more than I think I should. I don’t necessarily like the grooming part, but the socialization is unparalleled. Today did not disappoint either, as I saw my pal Jack. He’s one of the dogs who hangs out there on a daily basis, so I’ve come to know him pretty well during my times there.

It turns out I didn’t know something pretty important about him. He too has been a big puppy brother to two little people who were not very far apart in age. And he survived. Well, more than that. He loved it. Sure, there was the tail and fur pulling phase. And the newborn screams that pierce straight through to one’s brain. But the playtime. He said that’s the best.

It was an interesting perspective to hear, especially since I’ve admittedly had my concerns about having another little person to look after. I already knew it would be okay, but it was refreshing to hear about it from someone who’s been there. Especially since he said one of the best things about having two little people around is that it makes these long, cooped up winters around here not feel as long.

Because let’s face it. It’s pretty terrible being trapped inside for so many months of the year. We usually don’t know how long it will be until it’s finally over. But the little people with all of their crazy ways have a way of keeping things busy in a way that truly warms my heart. That doesn’t mean I’m not sure as anxious for spring as everyone else around here. It just means I know I have something pretty special to tide me over until it arrives.

 

 

 

I Can See The Birds March 4, 2015

They’re back. The winged beauties that fill the branches of trees throughout my backyard paradise during the spring, summer and fall months have arrived. I heard their chirps echo through the air this morning as I basked in a balmy 23-degree sunlight for a few minutes while I was outside. Pausing to smell the snowflakes

Perspective is a funny thing when it comes to weather around here. Though most people would consider 23-degrees far from balmy (and even Wisconsinites have been known to reach for the winter coats, hats and mittens when it first happens in October or November), it feels warm after another frigid winter like the one we’ve had. (Forget the winter coats, because it feels like spring!)

So my first thought when I heard the familiar banter between the sparrows and and finches was that it seems too early for them to be back. It may have been 23 degrees today, but it’s supposed to be mighty chilly again tomorrow. Not to mention the lingering inches of snow that still cover the ground.

But the second the those thoughts crossed my mind, I pushed them aside. Because in spite of my concern for their safety and well being, they are a sight for sore eyes. They are one of the first signs that spring is coming. Relief and renewal and rejuvenation are on their way. Soon the air will be warmer again, and dear baby Carter and I will resume our playtime silliness in the green grass of the backyard.

Only I know this year will be different. This year, spring means we are getting even closer to the arrival of little person no. 2, who is set to arrive in early June.

I’m not sure how that will change things for my outdoor plans, but I’m hopeful the bit of extra time mom will have at home with the new baby will mean a bit of extra time for all of us to enjoy the sunshine together.

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush,” suggested Wisconsin columnist Doug Larson. I don’t know much about wearing shoes. And I can’t whistle.

But I can see the birds. And I think that’s a pretty good sign of things to come.

 

Every Second Counts March 2, 2015

It’s a pretty morbid thought in my opinion. Yet it’s something that dear baby Carter seems to get behind, so I guess I can give it the benefit of the doubt.

Every time he hears this song, his reaction is the same. Whether he is in his high chair or running down the hallway or trying (and failing) to climb the stairs, he stops cold and starts bouncing around like a ninny. Sunshine, in a Smile

It’s called “Live Like We’re Dying,” and in it Kris Allen suggests making the most of every moment since we never know when it might be our last. And my dear innocent 14-month-old Carter loves all three minutes and forty-three seconds of it.

“So if your life flashed before you, what would you wish you would’ve done?” the song asks. “Yeah, we gotta start looking at the hands of the time we’ve been given. If this is all we got and we gotta start thinking if every second counts on a clock that’s ticking, gotta live like we’re dying.”

I will admit to liking the message, but the context bothers me every time. No one is dying. We’re too busy living.
At least that’s how I felt until it happened tonight. Right there, amid the relaxing routine of Carter’s bedtime, I heard the most beautiful thing. Laughter. From the ground up, all three of my beloved forever people were laughing hysterically. And it made my heart smile.
From what I could tell, mom was making a blowing noise on Carters belly, causing him to laugh longer and with more vigor than I have ever heard from him in his short life. The result was laughter from mom and dad. It went on like that for five precious minutes before Carter remembered he was tired and it was time to go to sleep.
But the length of time didn’t matter. Because in those minutes the laughter brought with it an understanding that it doesn’t matter that no one is dying. It’s that every second counts. The way I see it now, that’s the real point of the song.
That must be why Carter stops cold every time he hears it. It’s not because someone is dying. It’s because we’re too busy living.

 

 

A Smile and A Garbage Can February 28, 2015

Weeks or even months can go by without it happening. Maybe it has something to do with it so often seeming much easier to complain or focus on the negative than to praise a job well done or focus on the positive. Regardless of the reason, I’m happy to report that today it happened twice.

A smile. From the ground up, it is exactly as simple as it sounds.I'm a Half Full Doggie

Today it was dear baby Carter’s smiles that made a difference in the world. Eighteen. That is how many different people’s hearts mom said he touched today with nothing more than his contagious grin. One heart in particular was touched in a slightly unexpected way.

Apparently mom and Carter were shopping the cereal aisle at Target when it happened. They came across an older lady who Carter simply loved. He smiled and giggled and smiled some more. The game continued as the duo encountered her again a few minutes later. And again in the checkout line, where the woman said it.

“I feel more loved by this little guy than I have in days,” she told mom, who was touched by the sentiment.

Then there was the garbage can. From the ground up, it is as necessary as it sounds.

A piece of plastic broke off ours recently thanks to the frigidly cold temperatures and we needed a new one. To get it, mom needed to call the city and request one be dropped off, which they said would happen in one to ten business days. So you can imagine my surprise when a new one turned up way ahead of schedule about a half hour later. It might sound silly, but that simple thing made the lives of my people a little easier, and for that I am grateful.

Kindness. From the ground up, it isn’t complicated.

Too often it seems easier to complain. Or to focus on something negative. So today I do the opposite. Today (and every day) I choose to stand for all things positive. If it happens in smiles, great. If it comes in a less conventional package (like a garbage can for example), so be it. The point is to find these things, these moments, that remind us of all the good there is in the world and do everything we can to pass it on.

 

A Heart Full February 27, 2015

There are now two cribs in my forever home. Two closets filled with tiny clothes. Two car seats. Two changing tables. And if I’m being honest, it’s all a bit overwhelming. But if there is something I would prefer not to hear again any time soon, it’s a set of words I find condescending and unnecessary.

“You’re definitely going to have your hands full,” people have been saying to my forever parents. It’s been uttered by friends and family. It’s been referenced by doctors and nurses. It’s even been joked about by complete strangers at the grocery store. And while 18 months (to the day) is not a big gap between little people by any means, it is certainly not one to be condescending about either. Thinking in the Nursery

Because while this may not have been in my parent’s play book for the ideal sibling spacing situation, it wasn’t up to them. From my perspective, it may not have been their plan, but it was certainly God’s plan. And that’s what matters.

Now that I’ve experienced infancy through early toddlerhood, I feel like I can say with some sense of (albeit doggie) authority that I think any sort of spacing would come with its fair share of pros and cons. In our case, I’m happy my people won’t be pushing the reset button after Carter is grown enough that they have forgotten how to survive through sleepless nights. Diapers and bottles and all things baby are all still fresh on their minds.

I know it won’t be easy. I’m just mentally prepared for a couple of pretty challenging years.

But beyond any of that, I heard mom say something today that put things in perspective for me. She was on the phone for work and I’m not sure who she was talking to. I cringed when I heard whoever it was say “you’re going to have your hands full.” Mom didn’t bat an eyelash.

“That’s probably true, but at least I’ll have a heart full too.”

It’s true there are now some doubles of baby things in the house. Soon it will probably look even more like a day care than the organized oasis of peace I once knew. But I’m okay with that. Because I know what mom said is true. These things are signs of what is to come. Right along with the extra crib and diapers and sleepless nights will be more love than any of us knew we even had in our hearts. And that right there is more than worth the extra trouble.

 

I Will Have Lived February 26, 2015

It’s something I’ve honestly never done. I guess I could blame any number of things for why it isn’t a priority in my life. Regardless, I can’t say its something I’d ever like to do.

Planning ahead. From the ground up, it never has been and never will be something I particularly care to do.

I’ve found through my life experience that if something is meant to be it will be. I believe that everything that happened to me as a puppy – from that moment I lost my birth mom and brothers to my time on the streets to my time with that first foster family who returned me to the humane  society – led me to where I am today. I wouldn’t redo any of it and I have no regrets. Thinking big thoughts

And if I look back in time, I know for certain no amount of strategic planning on my part would have gotten me to this point. I’m at the mercy of my people for most things, and I wouldn’t change that for love or money.

So when I heard the words of one of America’s beloved founding founders, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I’ve had it wrong all this time.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” suggested Ben Franklin. As one who has never really made (or executed) a plan in my entire doggie life, I found this concept somewhat troubling. It made me wonder what my life would have looked like if I had somehow made a plan. Or what it would look like if I made one now.

I thought maybe five years would be a good place to start. Especially since that’s the equivalent to 35 in dog years. In five years (God willing) I will be twelve. Or 84 in dog years.

What’s interesting is that based on where I’m at in life, five years seems like a blink of an eye. Five years ago, I was a few short months away from finding my forever home. Or my forever people were a few months away from finding me. That feels like yesterday. And it feels like years and years ago. At the same time.

I think that’s why I’ve never tried planning ahead. Not only because I believe in making the best of any situation (and therefore don’t think I need a plan), but because I’ve never had a reason to question the natural way of things. It might not be a popular perspective, but it’s one I’ve decided to stick to. Does that make me a failure? I don’t think so. Instead I chose to live the life I’ve been blessed with, embracing the twists and turns that make it interesting.

Because when those five years are up I might not have done anything according to the plan. But I will have lived. And to me that means more than any strategic plan ever could.

 

That Crazy Toddler Tornado February 11, 2015

I wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told me about it six months ago. While my sweet baby Carter was just starting to crawl around, he moved at a relatively unalarming pace. Now he runs basically everywhere, never mind whatever obstacles might be in his way. He climbs over legs and toys and runs into things like wall corners (and me) from time to time, but there is no stopping him.

It’s something with which we’ve all come to be very familiar around my forever home. It’s also why I can now say with some amount of experiential knowledge that baby proofing is an evolving process that doesn’t stop with outlet covers. Things need to change around the home to accommodate someone approximately two-feet tall who constantly runs and grabs and climbs anything in his path simply for the sake of exploring and understanding the world around him.

So it was interesting to me to watch today, as my dear grandma was here spending time with Carter and I. Carter was in an especially excitable mood today, which means there was plenty of activity that more than effectively qualified him as a toddler tornado. From the second he woke up from his morning nap to that second his head settled into his favorite spot of his crib for his afternoon nap, he was moving. Quickly.

Sleeping on the job

And my grandma was moving with him. She chased him (which is one of his very favorite games right now) and let him crawl all over her and chased him some more. And when it was time for his nap, she said something I’ve heard my forever mom say so very often. If only she could nap too.

Because let’s face it. The kid is exhausting. I get tired just watching him, let alone chasing him around like I see some of my favorite people do day in and day out. But no matter how real the exhaustion may feel, I see something else in these people I can’t help but share.

I wouldn’t have guessed it six months ago, when Carter was just figuring out how to maneuver himself around. And that’s not a bad thing. The surprise has been in seeing that right along with the fatigue and sore muscles in my people comes something pretty special. Joy. From the ground up, it has a way of following that crazy toddler tornado around almost like the rainbow that follows a big storm. And believe me – it’s worth the wait.