Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Acres of Diamonds April 28, 2014

I stand for a lot of things. The least of which is a dog’s right to the occasional piece of bacon. But I also make a point to stand for the big things too. Like freedom. Love. Life. The pursuit of happiness. I live these things in my daily life. They are part of who I am.

So you can imagine how it was today to see baby Carter stand for something. He stood for himself today. At the tender age of (almost) four months old, my dear little person actually resembled a little person today. He stood on his own two legs all by himself. Kind of. He had a little support from the ottoman behind him. But it was still such a remarkable developmental milestone to witness.This is what happiness looks like

It reminded me that he is going to stand a lot in his life. It’s easy to forget this since he still spends the majority of his time in someone’s loving arms. He’s not mobile (yet). He still sleeps more than he’s awake. (Not that I can talk in that regard). But soon enough my little person will indeed be standing on his own, both literally and figuratively speaking.

He’s going to have thoughts and opinions about things. He’s going to learn right from wrong. He’s going to learn about powerful emotions. He’s going to live. It’s all so surreal to think about right now, yet I found myself wondering today what he will stand for in his life.

I hope he takes a page from my book about the bacon. If he doesn’t (apparently it’s not the best thing for people’s health), that’s okay as long as he learns to stand for the big things instead. Like freedom. Love. Life. The pursuit of happiness. And Joy. From the ground up, this is my wish today. Because as I watched dear Carter stand up today, the words of American motivational speaker Earl Nightengale came to mind.

“You are, at this moment, standing right in the middle of your own acres of diamonds,” he said. That is all I can hope for today and always.

 

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?

 

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.

 

Making Sense of the Chaos March 26, 2014

You’ve heard it from me. And – if you’re anywhere in the central United States – you’ve been hearing it for months. It’s been a tough winter around here. I’ve done my best to make light of a negative situation, which has been made a lot easier thanks to my mom being home from that place called work for so long. I know it was to take care of baby Carter (not little ole me), but it doesn’t matter.

I’ve loved it. Especially since the weather has kept us all cozy together inside. I know it goes against every canine bone in my body to say this, but it hasn’t been so bad for me. Sure, I miss the warm weather and all things that come with it. I miss walks in the neighborhood, adventures at the dog park and the (rare, but oh so exciting) endeavors beyond city limits. I miss the days when I came first, before this dear little person who I do love so much.Snuggle Bug

But I’ve had my snuggles. I’ve had irreplaceable time with my forever mom. I’ve snuck my way into time with her and baby Carter. And I’ve come to look forward to what happens after mom leaves the door slightly ajar in the morning. That means guests are coming. Guests like Auntie Morgan or mom’s mom, or one (or more!) of mom or dads friends.

It’s a far cry from my former life as sole daytime guardian of the Schmidt abode. There is very little time for myself these days. Less time to drift into the daydream kind of sleep I used to when it was me, myself and I all day long every weekday. Less time to do as I please from my spot in the window. I guess you could say it’s less time to be myself.

But that would be silly. Because I am probably more myself now than ever before. Now I am a companion, not just to my people, but to whomever comes to watch over dear baby Carter. I am a protector of dear baby Carter. And I am myself. Nothing could ever change that.

Not even how awful a winter we’ve had around here. Silly me thinking last winter was rough. This winter has reminded me to slow it down. To remember what really maters. To make sense of the chaos. It’s the only way to live.

Here is the video you’ve heard so much about, featuring my forever family. Note my forever mom picking up dear baby Carter about halfway through, and then her bringing Carter into our kitchen and the end. To me, it brings things full circle. Which is a wonderful place to live.

 

Accidents Happen February 5, 2014

Left behind. That’s how I felt when mom packed up baby Carter to go on a car ride without me today. The way she was bustling around the house, I knew adventure was on the horizon. And where there’s adventure, there’s Wiley if I have anything to say about it. But when mom left, I wasn’t on the car ride manifest.

Instead there I was, in my beloved spot in the window seat, left behind. I felt pretty bad about it too, at least until mom came back earlier than I anticipated. I could tell right away something was wrong. It wasn’t until I heard the story that I understood what happened.
It's All Right
Mom was in a car accident. She rear-ended a car on an off ramp of the freeway on her way to the mall (where she intended to window shop with Carter). We got snow last night and the ramp was not salted, she explained to whoever she was talking to on her cell phone, so there was nothing she could do to stop in time. I felt my heart jump into my throat as I listed to her recall the experience.

Something pretty awful could have happened to my forever mom and my little person today. And here I was feeling sorry for myself being left at home. I certainly learned my lesson, but there’s more to it than that. Again I observed mom disappointed. Upset. Crying. I really hate when she cries.

Suddenly I didn’t feel left behind anymore. I realized with a start that these things happen. Accidents. They have a way of happening at the most inconvenient of times and bringing people down in the process. But they do happen. It reminds me of something I’ve seen on a commercial for Suburu. The accident that happened today wasn’t nearly as intense (or scary) as the ones highlighted in the commercial, the lesson remains. They lived.

It was awful. It happened at an inopportune time. But they lived. That’s what matters.

 

Joy: From the Inside Out December 21, 2013

I don’t even know what to say. That’s right, all. Something has rendered me speechless. It’s shocking, I know. Almost as shocking as thinking about the meaning of today.

On December 21, 2012 I felt inspired. It was snowing, and mom and I were happy together, and I didn’t know which came first, her laughter or my joy. It fell from the sky that day. And I remember the moment like it was yesterday. It was like a light bulb turned on in my heart and I knew what I had to do. I had to share this magic with whomever would take it. Joy. From the ground up, it became my 365-day mission to share it with the world.

Dog Blog with a CauseAnd that’s what I’ve done. Every day for a year, I have written about everything from existential philosophy to canine poop rituals. Because that’s life. It’s random and messy and beautiful and heart wrenching and hard and fabulous all at the same time. And I love every minute of it.

That doesn’t stop just because my one-year commitment has come to pass. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have grown, over the last year, to better understand myself, the world I live in, and how those two things interact and create the blessing that is life.

This knowledge has empowered me to take on a new mission that promises to be challenging in a whole new way. I want to continue sharing my unique perspective on joy. From the inside out, our understanding of joy in the Schmidt house is bound to change in the next year. Any day now, my little person is going to bring his or her joy into our world. If we thought we knew joy before, I think we have a whole other thing coming.

I know there will also be sleepless nights and dirty diapers and (gasp) a little less attention coming my way. And I may not be able to share these happenings quite as regularly as I have for the last year. But that’s life. From the ground up, the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the course of my blogging journey it is that this thing called life is certainly worth living to the fullest.

“Nobody gets to live life backward,” advice columnist Ann Landers suggested. “Look ahead, that is where your future lies.” The past has become my future and my future will soon become my present. From the inside out, joy is most definitely upon us. So today I turn the page. I start a new chapter. And I’m not going to lie – it’s one I can’t wait to read either.

 

Dodging Bullets November 25, 2013

I’ve dodged my fair share of bullets in my five years of doggie life. Not literally (obviously) but figuratively. Emotionally. Mentally. Spiritually. I’ve been attacked in all of these ways and yet I have remained intact.

I made it safely out of a sticky situation in the road with some cars the day I got separated from my birth mom and brothers. I survived an attack by another dog at the dog park. My mom persevered through the struggle to adopt me (it wasn’t an easy process because I’d already been returned once before). These are all things I’ve lived through. I’d go as far as to call them my life’s biggest close calls.Dodging Bullets

But I’m not sure anything lived up to the moment I experienced today on the car trip to the groomer. Because today it wasn’t just my life in danger. It was my forever mom’s life. And the future little person’s life. And it was terrifying.

It was snowing – the first somewhat significant snowfall in Wisconsin this winter – and it was beautiful. I love everything about snow. I love the stillness it brings, and the method in which it is delivered. Except for today. Today it was danger personified. One minute we were safe. The next the car felt slippery and out of control. I thought for sure we were going to hit something.

My heart raced. My body shook. Time stood still. (Apparently it’s this way for people too). Then the moment passed. The car was back under control like nothing had happened. I didn’t stop shaking. My heart kept a steadily fast pace. But we were okay. We were safe. All three of us were safe.

I’ve had my fair share of what you could refer to as close calls. This one was different. Because it wasn’t about me. It was about my forever person and my future little person. I’ve got plans for us – big plans – and in that moment nothing was more important than that.

“It’s our challenges and obstacles that give us layers of depth and make us interesting,” suggested American actress and TV personality Ellen DeGeneres. ” Are they fun when they happen? No. But they are what make us unique.”

The snow taught me yet another beautiful lesson today. It’s one I’m sure I already knew, but I certainly welcome the reminder. My people are more important to me than myself. Their safety, their happiness, their joy comes before my own. I don’t care how many bullets I need to dodge to protect that truth.

 

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/

 

Worth The Wait September 28, 2013

I’m definitely with mom on this one. Pregnancy math sucks. Leave it to people to make something so simple into something so complicated.

The way I understand it, science dictates the pregnancy actually starts two weeks prior to conception and runs for forty weeks. So you get a two-week head start but (this is where I get confused) because of it you’re actually pregnant for 10 months instead of the nine months with which every woman is familiar? That seems cruel enough on its own.My Lamp Is Lit

Add to it the way us canines process time and it makes sense to me why dogs only carry puppies for a little more than two months. But (as I understand this is something I most definitely cannot control) I begrudgingly digress.

Instead I focus on the real problem at hand. I simply cannot wait a moment longer to meet my little person. I have big ideas. Grand plans. Games I’ve developed in my head. None of which I can put into action until I meet the new addition to the family. We’re going to play chase around the house, and share food, and (obviously) become best friends.

Yet (at least from what I’m hearing around here) mom has 16 weeks to go. 16 weeks! That feels like a lifetime. But as I am in the habit of finding a silver lining I realized something today – it’s not a lifetime I intend to waste. Instead I shall continue scheming and dreaming.

The idea came to me today as I was feeling especially philosophical in the backyard. It was a beautiful fall day in Wisconsin and (as I rested my eyes) while lazing in the grass, my thoughts turned to the future. The backyard has this funny impact on me on days like today – like all of the stars align and it can somehow transport me through time. Or maybe I’m just crazy.

Nonetheless, my images of the future were all happy ones. My little person and I are playing together in the grass. There is giggling and wagging. There is nonsense conversation (as the little person is no more than two years old). There is friendship and love. There is joy from the ground up.

Frustrating as pregnancy math may be, it reminds me a bit of the words of Christian author Tertullian who once said “hope is patience with the lamp lit.” I certainly can’t wait for three years from now when all of these dreams come alive. Heck, I can barely wait three (or is it four?) more months to meet the little one. But my lamp is definitely lit. Hope is in my heart. These dreams will come alive. I know they will. We will be best friends. And it will be worth the wait.

 

Your Teacher Heart September 16, 2013

Every now and then someone will ask me a question that I truly don’t know how to answer. (Want to go …anywhere…is not the question, in case you were wondering). How did you get so smart? They ask. Even if I could speak people, I’m not sure what my answer would be.

The thing is, I wouldn’t say I’m particularly smart. I’m not (that) special. Perhaps that’s why people think I’m smart. Because I’ve noticed a trend in modern society that people generally are not as smart as they think they are. A concept I think can go both ways.

Psychology aside, I do sometimes wonder where “smart” comes from. It’s not among the list of qualities American author John Grogan said seem to come so effortlessly to dogs: “loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, unqualified love.” Grogan hypothesizes these emotions that are second nature to canines can be “elusive to humans.”

I can’t say this is true for everyone, but it does spark a curiosity in my heart. And I beg to differ with the popular thought that curiosity killed the cat. First, because I think it’s a terrible thing to say even if it is theoretical. Second, because I think curiosity of the heart is the ultimate spark for learning.Love. Unplugged.

This occurred to me today as I dreamed of meeting my little person and all he or she has to learn about the world. I found myself both excited and overwhelmed by the insight of my dog park friend Tucker, who shared with me all about his little person Mason. They are best buddies, and they are constantly learning from each other. But Mason is 13 people years old now. My little person will be brand new to the world the same time he or she is brand new to me. Talk about pressure.

Then I took a deep sighing breath (the kind that catches the attention of my forever mom and inevitably merits a scratch behind the ears) as I realized something that gave me the sincerest form of peace. I don’t know what I’m so worried about. My heart is my teacher. That’s why things like loyalty and selflessness come so easy to me. It’s all rooted in the unconditional love in my heart.

Every now and then someone will ask me a question that I truly don’t know how to answer. How did you get so smart? Beyond the people/dog language barrier lies their answer. I’m not. Not in the conventional sense at least. But I do know where smart comes from. It comes from a curiosity of the heart. It stems from a desire to be loyal, devoted, selfless and optimistic. It is love.

This post is dedicated to my dear blog friend Utesmile, whose encouragement inspired these words.