Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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 Good Day March 8, 2015

It’s one thing when I think it. It’s something else entirely when it gets sound out loud by one of my people. Especially when there is nothing in particular that stands out to me as anything special.

That was today around here. It was a pretty standard Sunday in my forever home, except for the loss of an hour for daylight savings time. But even that didn’t seem to get anyone down. I held down the fort while the usual errands were run between dear baby Carter’s naps. It was a stark contrast to yesterday, when the poor little guy hardly napped and his overtired and unhappy self had a ripple effect all the way to my heart. Some laundry was done, and a bit of cleaning. All in all, it was a pretty routine day around here. Big Thinking

So it kind of took me by surprise when I heard my forever dad say it this afternoon. He and mom were relaxing together, which admittedly doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to, after the errands and laundry and cleaning were done. I was napping nearby, so I’m actually kind of surprised I even heard it all. But I’m so glad I did.

“It’s been a good day,” dad said simply.

And I suppose it had. Especially after the day we had yesterday with all the crying and gnashing of teeth (literally). That’s when I realized that sometimes I think it takes a day like yesterday, a day when nothing seems to go right, to remind us to appreciate days like today.

When nothing out of the ordinary happens. It’s just another day when everything goes as expected. A day when there is time (albeit brief) to pause to reflect on such things. A good day.

It’s one thing when I think it (and I think it all the time). It’s something else entirely when someone says it out loud. Just as simple as dad’s words are the words that form the reason for my acknowledgment of the simple things today.

As ancient Persian philosopher Omar Khayyam put it, “be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

 

 

The Small Stuff October 24, 2014

Laundry. Cleaning the bathrooms. Doing the dishes. Emptying the Diaper Genie. These are certainly far from exciting ways to spend one’s early Friday evening. Yet that is what I observed today as mom scurried around the house dusting and tidying and picking up. I figured someone special must be coming over for her to randomly be taking such care with the house so suddenly.

As it turns out, I was right. But it wasn’t who you’d think. The small stuff

Apparently, the point of her efforts was simply to have dad come home for the weekend to a clean house. He was working a bit later than usual and she thought it might be nice to have a few less chores to worry about over the weekend.

It’s little things like this my people do for each other that make my heart smile.

But there is another side to the coin, and it is just as important to recognize. Just as the small stuff can be, and often is, something to cherished, it can also become its own kind of roadblock if we let it. In the early days when dear baby Carter first came home, for example, mom and dad set aside most of the same “small” things. Laundry piled up. Bathrooms weren’t the cleanest place in the house. Dishes accumulated in the sink. That was a time not to do it. That was a time to not sweat the small stuff. Because there was something (rather, someone) who was more important in those moments.

It’s a strange dichotomy to be sure, but certainly one the heart can navigate its way around if we let it. The little things that mean so much should own that special place in our heart, while not consuming us when something else takes precedence.

“Life is what’s happening while we’re busy making other plans,” suggested American author Richard Carlson. Don’t get me wrong, I like making plans. I like structure just as much as the next doggie. But sometimes going with the flow means seeing the small stuff in a different light. For better or worse, the small stuff has a life of its own. Don’t let it rule yours.

 

I’m Sorry Now April 22, 2014

I don’t really know what happened. One minute I was in my happy place otherwise known as dreamland (chasing rabbits and other small vermin, of course). The next thing I know, there was crying. Well, it was more like screaming actually. Very loud and incredibly frantic screaming. Wiley! Wiley! WILEY!

I’m not sure how long it was going on before it finally woke me from my apparently deep slumber, but out I crawled from one of my favorite spots under my peoples’ bed and there I was. And there she was.

My dear aunt Morgan was in shambles. Absolute shambles. Her hair was strewn every which way. She was crying. And she was upset. She was incredibly upset. I did my best to cheer her up with all of my tricks. I snuggled and wagged and licked and none of it seemed to work. It was apparent. I was in the dog house. The worst part was, I wasn’t really sure why.

That is until mom returned home shortly thereafter. That is when I listened to the other side of the story. I thought he ran away, Morgan said, I thought he was gone. It seems to have startled her that I didn’t respond right away, I realized. This brought to light something I’ve always known but spend very little time contemplating. Baby Love

We often don’t know the consequences of our actions until it’s too late. A lot of things are said that we can’t take back. Yet we say them, they do their damage, and life goes on. A lot of things are done that have negative repercussions. A lot of decisions are made with little to no thought of their impact. All the while I know in my heart the power of the ripple effect. Everything we do, intentional or otherwise, has an effect on the world around us.

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life doing nothing,” as Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw suggested.

It doesn’t matter that I didn’t know what was happening. It doesn’t matter that in my dreams I was about to slay a whole coven of squirrels. What matters is the tears that resulted from my ignorance. The stress I caused with all kinds of unnecessary worrying about my whereabouts.

Because while it was certainly not intentional I learned a very important lesson today. I learned what it means to cause such confusion. Because I learned what is like to be loved. It’s not the first time, and I (while I don’t intend a repeat episode anytime soon) I am so very blessed in knowing it won’t be the last.

 

Just Say Hello February 20, 2014

It really breaks my heart to say it. It goes against everything my optimistic little doggie heart believes in. But sadly it’s true. Some things really can’t be fixed.

There are some medical conditions that can’t be cured. Cars that get totaled in accidents. And hearts that break beyond repair. Considering each of these, I think its the broken hearts I most desperately long to mend. So you can imagine how my ears perked up today as something other than an animal caught my attention on the television.

Just say hello. It sounds so simple and yet Oprah Winfrey has launched an entire campaign behind these three little words. Because let’s face it. They aren’t nearly as little as they seem. In a world where many of us so frequently replace interpersonal contact with a quick text, email or phone call, the power of human interaction has certainly lost some of its emotional traction.Hello.

That stops now. Because, as O Magazine editor Gayle King puts it, you never know.

“You never know the difference it could make in someone’s life,” she says in the campaign video. “You never know what people are going through, you never know how appreciated it is, and it’s easy to do.” She’s right. So many people are more lonely than they admit to anyone. And therein lies the fundamental problem.

I may not be able to actually say hello, but I know I can at the very least share joy with whomever will take it. That will be my contribution. That, and spreading the word about this fabulous cause. Because I believe in the power of words almost as much as I believe in the power of people to make a difference in each other’s lives.

As much as it pains me to say it, there are so many things in this world that are broken beyond repair. The human heart doesn’t have to be one of these things. Loneliness doesn’t have to be one of these things. It might not seem like much, but in a world where every little bit counts no step is too small toward saving a heart.

 

Leaving A Legacy February 16, 2014

I don’t have money. Or property in Hawaii. Or antiques. When it comes to possessions, all I really have is my comfort circle (otherwise known as my toy collection), my food, and some treats. And the fur on my back. That’s about it.

I don’t know if it’s the recent arrival of my dear little person. Or maybe the fact that my sixth birthday is rapidly approaching. But lately this is all I can think about. Legacy. What is mine worth? I know this is how wealth management professionals make a living, advising people on financial plans for the future and beyond. But I’m pretty sure there aren’t many doggie financial advisors out there.Legacy Looks Like This

And maybe it’s better that way. This occurred to me yesterday morning as I shared a very special moment with my forever family. We were gathered together in the bedroom, all five of us, when it happened. The sun was shining through the windows but that’s not where the warmth in the room was coming from. Not for me at least. My heart was glowing with the sincerest of joys as snuggled up to baby Carter, who was snuggled up to dad, who was holding hands with mom. I realized exactly what my legacy will look like in those moments.

It’s not that much unlike American songstress Tina Turner who said “my legacy is that I stayed on course…from the beginning to the end, because I believed in something inside of me.”

I don’t have money or property or anything of monetary value. I bet even if I tried to sell the beloved members of my comfort circle, I wouldn’t come up with much. But that doesn’t really matter. Because I have the fur on my back and the love in my heart. Legacy. I have exactly as much to pay forward as I choose to have. It’s worth whatever I want it to be worth.

And these paws have a lot to offer the world. Like life lessons. And everything that matters to me. And joy. From the ground up, that is what I want my legacy to be.

 

Whatever It Takes February 8, 2014

It only costs a dollar. But it is capable of miracles.

The winter blues have claws deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of many in my neck of the woods these days. If it’s not frigidly cold, it’s snowing. If it’s not snowing, it’s frigidly cold. And I am in good company of many Wisconsinites who still find joy in the snow diamonds falling from the sky. But even I can admit it’s been an especially tough winter. I love my backyard paradise, but it is taking a great deal to get me out there recently.Nap time

So I find my joy in other things. Snuggle time with Carter. Quiet time in another room when Carter is screaming. And (this is new) time alone with dad. Mom has been spending the majority of her time taking care of Carter (as it should be), which has freed dad up for some quality time with me.

Tonight our quality time involved cooking a special dinner for mom. Since I’ve won more of his affection lately he’s been especially generous with treats of all kinds, so I was incredibly attentive as he bustled around the kitchen. (They don’t call me the doggie vacuum for nothing). He was making a comfort food staple – macaroni and cheese. And not the gourmet kind with the roux and six different varieties of cheese (which he does also know how to make). The kind you can get for a dollar. Complete with the orange powder.

Generally I’m not that big a fan of the less is more idea. Us canines tend to indulge in whatever comes our way. But tonight less worked wonders on the winter blues. Joy. From the ground up, it happened in the Schmidt house today in spite of those nasty winter blues. And it didn’t take much.

“Your success and happiness lies in you,” Helen Keller suggested. “Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

That’s the thing about joy – sometimes it takes a little effort to find it amidst the blues. But once you do it almost always is worth the search. Especially when it only costs a dollar.

 

There’s No App For That Revisited January 30, 2014

Gratitude. Love. Joy. These are big words with a lot of emotion behind them. That’s why I have always been a believer in putting these so-called “Smartphones” away. They take away attention from me. They distract my people. And, in general, I simply don’t care for technology replacing the real thing.
LoveA tiny smiley face on a screen in no way is as powerful as a real one. And (let’s face it) a cyber hug only goes so far. To me there is an entire generation of little people growing up in an age that doesn’t encourage nearly enough physical communication. I don’t really understand what makes these phones so “smart” anyway.

So today I was reading through some comments from my friends in the blogosphere and it occurred to me. I am so often very deeply touched by the words I see on the screen. To all of you (you know who you are) who comment regularly, please know that your words sincerely make my heart swell with joy. That brings the purpose of this blog full circle, as joy truly is best when shared. I share my take on life’s little joys from the ground up with you, and (in turn) you share joy with me.

It’s a very powerful technological cycle that I couldn’t ever replace with physical contact since we are all so far away. Therein I find the silver lining. This thing called technology certainly has its downsides – like replacing attention for the company we keep with company elsewhere – but it’s not like me to miss the silver lining in something. Technology. From the ground up, it in no way can replace the real thing.

But it is still real to both the sender and the receiver of the messages. Gratitude. Love. Joy. While I still feel these are best served in person, that doesn’t entirely negate their value via text message or email. Blessings are being shared. There may not be an app for that, but that’s okay. Because maybe this technology thing isn’t so bad after all.

Related Post: There’s No App For That – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/05/04/theres-no-app-for-that/

 

Sharing Is Caring January 4, 2014

It’s nothing new for me necessarily. Except it is. This love I have for the new little person is unlike any other kind of love I’ve felt before. And yet again, he has rendered me speechless as I have no idea how to put this feeling into words.

So instead I have been putting them to action. I realized yesterday it wasn’t bothering me that Carter has replaced me as the attention source for visitors. That he too was sharing joy from the inside out.

But that hardly puts my own mission to rest. Today I was successful sharing joy my way. From the ground up, smiles and laughter filled the room during a rousing game of pickle in the middle with two of my favorite little people Abby and Isabelle. And the best part came afterward when we cuddled.

That’s when I was reminded that joy is not replacable. It’s not a limited time offer. And it is best shared. There is joy in sharing it is an embodiment of this thing called love.

Sharing Love

 

 

The Simple Things December 3, 2013

It’s pretty simple. Fairly basic. And entirely necessary. The act of breathing is such a foundational function of life that most of us don’t even think about it. It just comes naturally. To most of us.

It’s not so easy for my great grandma who – at the age of 83 – is healthy as a horse if not for her asthma. It’s a daily struggle for my friend with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). And most recently my mom was challenged with an unbelievable shortness of breath because my future little person was comfortably lodged into her ribs. Like many things in life, the act of breathing seems to be one of those things that can be easy to overlook. We just assume that we will go on breathing, no questions asked. It’s not always that simple.

Just BreatheSo you can imagine my surprise the other day when mom held dad’s hand to her belly and had dad feel the baby breathing. I thought it was absurd. But sure enough, dad confirmed the rhythmic movements and the three of us sat there in awe for a moment. I’m not sure I understand it, but I can’t imagine it’s very easy for the baby to be doing this practice breathing. Yet it’s possible.

I know the biblical phrase is usually thought of to be “all things are possible to those who believe.” Today I got to thinking about how that applies to those who breathe. Albeit challenging for some, taking a moment to pause and recognize the miracle of breath can change a person’s entire perspective.

It certainly did for my mom the other day as we all bore witness to those miraculous baby practice breaths. In those same moments mom realized something. She too could breathe. The baby must have shifted off of her ribs in a way that made it easier for her to breathe again. So there we were, one blessed family, sitting together in silence. But it was more than that because in those moments I was reminded to be grateful for something simple. Something basic. Something that comes pretty naturally. Breath. It might sound silly, but I love when life reminds us to celebrate the simple things.