Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Things Live in Memories January 10, 2015

I would say I’ve lived a pretty full life. This year I will turn seven doggie years old, and I’ve seen a lot, witnessed a lot and learned a lot in my time living joy from the ground up. But even though that makes me the equivalent of almost 50 people years old, I know I haven’t seen it all. There are lots of people in my life who have been around a lot longer and seen a lot more.

Change. From the ground up, I find it’s everywhere. People change and adapt as the world around them evolves. I’ve even seen it as I’ve seen my dear forever mom grow (what some might say is) a bit too attached to her cell phone. The same conceptual device that she used to use to call loved ones has developed into a multi-functional tool. Heck, I can even remember in one of my other (temporary) adoptive homes, they had a phone that was attached to the wall. They had other things I rarely see anymore too, like a humongous box for a television and a record player.

From what I can tell, technology is one of the most rapidly changing things people need to adapt to. And while I feel there is a certain degree of caution that needs to be taken with any and all aforementioned devices, the concept behind the continued modification of society isn’t necessarily a bad one in my mind. Today will become tomorrow whether we like it or not. And that’s nothing to be afraid of in my humble doggie opinion. Hard At Work

I’ve seen a lot in my doggie life. I aspire to see a lot more. But that doesn’t give any less meaning to the things of the past. Though the things themselves may no longer be around, that doesn’t mean they can’t live on through the memories they helped create.

Like this person mom was talking to the other day who fondly remembers when he was seven years old watching the historic 1967 Ice Bowl on 12-inch black and white television with his family. He remembers everything about that day, in part because of that tiny little box that made it all possible.

All good things from the past are not lost. Sure, they are just things. But they are also memories. And memories are meant to hold on to for as long as we’d like.

 

The Solid Foundation December 6, 2014

For some of us, I think it starts day one. From the moment we begin taking in the world around us, the foundation on which we will build the rest of our lives is built. Day by day, memory by memory, the foundation is built and layered upon as life goes on.

For others, I don’t think it’s that easy. I think there is a hurdle (or set of them) that manages to break away that foundation. I’m sure it happens at a variety of times in life. And perhaps it even happens more than once. Be it a negative life event, bad decision, or combination of the two, the result is a shattered core. A broken foundation upon which even a healthy heart could not stand. I’ve heard of this place referred to as rock bottom. Paws for Happy Thoughts

I don’t think it is a place I’ve ever visited. I feel like I would know it if I had. Sure, I had some awful times. One night in particular I remember not knowing for sure I would make it to the morning. But rock bottom? I don’t know that it ever happened to me. To my people? They too have been shaken a few times. Struggled through it. Rock bottom? Maybe. But I don’t think so.

But I know it’s happened to others. Others who weren’t fortunate or blessed enough to avoid encountering anything that completely and totally overwhelmingly devastating. Others who have had their entire world shaken to its core and can’t recognize their foundation, let alone begin rebuilding it.

I thought fondly for these people today as I read the words of British novelist J.K. Rowling, who said “rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

For me, I think it started day one. From the moment I entered the world, I was building my foundation the solid ground of optimism. But because of this I am definitely a fan of new beginnings. Second chances. Life’s opportunities to push the “reset” button. So to anyone out there who might be at that place called rock bottom, you are not alone. And life is not over. Only brightness lies in front of you. Just look up.

 

 

It’s Just Stuff November 1, 2014

I don’t have much to my name. Well, technically, I don’t have anything to my name since it all really belongs to my people. They purchased all my toys, and my food and my treats. They pay for the water I drink. So I suppose you could say I have no worldly possessions. And you know what? I’m okay with that.

I got to thinking about this today after what I thought was a pretty efficient trip outside. It has gotten rather chilly around here in recent days as winter begins to peak its way into our lives, so my long and luxurious naps in the sunshine of spring, summer and fall have drawn to an end. Dreaming a little dream

When I went outside to take care of business, there was nothing different in the kitchen. When I came back in a few minutes later, that was far from the case. There were 10 bags stuffed to the brim with mom’s clothes. I should probably preface this by saying that clothes are not something lacking for my dear forever mom. She has dressers scattered throughout the house, in addition to the one in the bedroom where her closet is full. And then there’s the spare bedroom closet, which may or may not contain an entire second wardrobe.

The problem is I think she has a hard time letting go. That’s the sweater she wore on her first date with dad. That was the suit she wore when she nailed the big interview. That was the dress she wore to a good friend’s wedding.

All of that ended today, at least for the 15 minutes or so I was outside. That’s all it took for her to put aside most of the memories and fill those bags up to take to donate to a local resale shop. Thanks for supporting our mission, they will say to her as she donates hundreds of dollars of skirts, dresses, dress suits and tops. And, at least for today, I think she will feel good about her decision.

I know I would. I don’t have anything to my name and I’m okay with that. Ultimately, it is all just stuff. And you can’t take it with you. She still has her memories. No one can take that away. Nor can anyone take away my nonexistent worldly possessions. Which is fine by me because I have everything I need. I have a roof over my head, food in my dish and a family who loves me. What more could I ask for?

 

Those Little Moments May 28, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:37 pm
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It was one of those moments you try to take a snapshot of in your heart. Or your head. Or both. If I’m being totally honest, I was just kind of happy to witness it first hand. Or first paw. Happy memories

Dad was out running errands last night during what is usually family time. It didn’t bother mom, who rushed around the house to make sure everything was set for dear baby Carter’s bed time while feeding him and cleaning up the dishes and doing the laundry. This thing that people can do with multi-tasking continues to amaze me on a daily basis. But that is (by far) not the most amazing thing that happened yesterday.

Mom was feeding Carter when it happened. Dad got home from running errands and his words paused time. “You make me so happy,” he said to Carter. Or mom. Or both. It certainly didn’t matter who he meant to address. What mattered was the feelings behind the words he said. They made mom cry. They would have made Carter cry if he understood. As for me, I was doing as us canines do – standing by looking all strong while we are all-the-while breaking into little bitty emotional pieces inside.

But none of these pieces are the bad kind. They are all so very good.

Because I know this was one of those moment you try to take a snapshot of in your heart. Or your head. Or both. I’m not sure it matters where the moment is stored, as long as it is. That is why I chose to share it with you, my blogosphere family, because it is special to me. It’s one of those things you can’t un=see, but wish you could store in your heart forever.

This is one of those rare instances where I will disagree with a philosophical mastermind. “Take care of all your memories,” suggested American musician Bob Dylan, ” for you cannot relive them.”

To that I say, these little moments are the moments we live that bring life to each day.

 

The Key to the Future May 24, 2014

It’s Memorial Day weekend around here. Which means a few things for me. First (and foremost) it means we pause to recognize the heroes who have put their own lives aside to serve and protect the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis. Selfishly, I think my most favorite thing about these freedoms might be the extra day away from work my beloved forever people get to observe the holiday.

Because this means my people are home together for three whole days. This has always been a luxury due to the necessity of that stuff called money and its direct relationship to that place called work. Sure, mom has been home a little more frequently than before because of her new job, but my favorite is the time when we are all together. Like the family we are.In the yard

Being part of this family for almost four years now, I’ve come to expect certain things on this weekend. Tradition. From the ground up, it took over my day today. My people spent the day planting as they always do around this same Saturday every year. And so my backyard paradise has been restored. There are flowers and bird feeders and a garden and the whole bit of it makes my people so happy. Therefore I am happy.

As I found myself a place in the shade to observe the action this afternoon, it occurred to me how blessed I am to have such a home with a yard and all that space to run through and enjoy. More than that, I thought of this being the third time I’ve observed this day. As I thought back through the todays past my heart filled with more joy.

That’s the thing about memories. While (yes) they are capable of doing some very bad things to joy sometimes, they become better with age.

“Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future,” suggested Dutch thinker Corrie Ten Boom. I feel these words came to life for me today as I watched Memorial Day tradition unfold around me. So, as I usually do, I embraced the past right along with the present on my journey to the future.

 

Maybe You Can May 4, 2014

It happened almost four month ago. It was terrible. It was one of those things I couldn’t even talk about because it was so emotional. For everyone involved, it was one of those days of which we do not speak. You know the kind. The day you hate. Or regret. Or wish you could completely erase from the memory of anyone and everyone involved. For me, that day was January 9, 2014.What's that you say?

That was one of the only days in my life I honestly wish I could take back. The day I wish would have gone differently. The day I met Charlie.

It was innocent enough on the part of my dear aunt Morgan, who brought her new addition into my forever home. To be fair to her, she had absolutely no idea how I was doing or adjusting to the concept of having my new little person around 24/7. She had been an absolute God-send for my people those first few days, but as it pertains to the presence of another dog in our home…well, that was something completely it’s own.

Enter Charlie. A dachshund with something to prove. He loved my dear aunt so very much, but he did not love me. Or Carter for that matter. He came into our house with something to prove and I didn’t like it one bit. I don’t often feel myself overcome with any sort of overly protective nature, but it happened that day. Charlie and I, well, we did not get along. And, as a result, dear Charlie went back to the humane society from whence he came that day. And to this day I feel awful about it, while at the same time I know it was right how I reacted to him that day of days.

Proof came today when I heard some heart-stoppingly amazing good news. My dear Morgan finally found her forever doggie friend today. His name is Joey and he is a Pomeranian and I cannot wait to meet him. It is different than it was with Charlie in every possible way. Carter is older now. He can handle meeting a new four-legged friend. He basically told me so when I stared into my eyes yesterday.

Because one thing is for sure: Carter will be a forever dog person. This is something I hold dear to my heart, forever and always, even though it (probably) has more to do with how my people feel about animals. Rather than question any of it, I can’t wait to meet dear Joey because I know he will erase the memories of four months ago. Tomorrow I will meet dear Joey, and somehow I know life will never be the same. Because that dreadful day in February was one of those things you can’t take back. Unless, under the right circumstances, maybe you can.

 

When You’re Down January 26, 2014

Please don’t laugh. It was a big time adventure for mom and I today. She took me with her to an especially exciting destination on what was her first venture out of the house in almost a week. The grocery store! It doesn’t mean much for me, other than a brief car ride to and from, with a quick nap on the driver’s seat in between.On the Road Again

But it was more than that. I was mom’s copilot again. Amidst the last several weeks since baby Carter’s arrival, I’ve missed alone time with her. So that made what some might call a routine drive into something kind of special for me. And then it happened.

I looked around and noticed some serious changes since my last car ride around the holidays. It was all holly and jolly with twinkle lights and Christmas wreaths and joy. From the ground up, the holiday season was everywhere.

Not anymore. Today was a dreary day in Wisconsin. I don’t even think it hit the anticipated high of 26 degrees. And we face more frigid temperatures (with wind chills estimated in the -50 degree range) in the days to come. The sky was grey. And there are no twinkle lights left to bring any holly or jolly. To be honest, it is a pretty depressing sight to be seen.

So there are no more twinkle lights. We just need to make our own. I know it’s silly, but I found such joy in my car ride today. Because I’m not in the business of all things sad. As mom went inside the grocery store and I cuddled into a cozy ball, I fought to find a silver lining in these doldrums that surround us.

I know its tough not to let such things take a negative effect on emotions. But thinking about the negative inspires positivity for me. That is what joy from the ground up is all about. When you’re down, there is no where to go but up. Or on a car ride to nowhere. That always does the trick.

 

Recipe for an Unforgettable Day November 12, 2013

Some days are imprinted on our minds as if they were yesterday. Others blur and fade. And, every now and then, life hands us a combination of both. I’ve noticed that heightened emotions and extreme situations in the same day create a recipe for the kind of day that you’ll never forget with moments that you struggle to remember.

Like what happened to my mom one year ago today. I knew something was awry that morning when she and dad interrupted our usual sleep routine to go to the hospital well before most people wake for the day. It was still dark outside, and (unfortunately) there was a sense of darkness in both of them. Fear. It haunted us that day.

I worried the entire time they were gone, and my worry met its match when they returned. It was about eight hours later, but may as well have been eight months the way I saw it. Nothing could have prepared me for the days that followed.Hope Floats

There is a sound us canines make when we’re in pain. Mom hates it. It’s akin to a screech or a squeal, and it communicates that we are in intensely extreme discomfort. I don’t make it often, but when I do it’s usually because someone stepped on my paw or my tail. And I immediately seek some sort of acknowledgment from the person since I know they couldn’t have meant to hurt me.

Mom was the embodiment of the people version of that sound those few days after surgery. She had something called knee reconstruction surgery, where the doctor apparently grafted her a new ACL, repaired an incredibly shredded MCL and did a repair on a horizontal tear on her meniscus he only does in 5% of cases. Whatever all that means didn’t matter to me.

What did matter was the immediate aftermath, and the painful recovery that followed. I hated every minute of it. Worse yet, I hated to see dad struggle to take care of her and somehow (at the same time) shield her from how afraid he really was. Fear. I know that’s part of the reason mom kept crying out in the night. She was afraid. And so was I. It was disarming for me to see my people, my rocks, seem to be crumbling around me.

Those days, those fearful days, are imprinted on our minds and hearts forever. Yet, with time, they blur and fade. But what I remember most from the heightened emotions is what I am most thankful for today. We got through it. We persevered. And now look at us. Here we are a year later with a little person on the way. Mom’s knee (almost never) bothers her anymore. All of this stands to show – fear is no match for hope.

 

The F Word October 10, 2013

Brisk walks around the tree-lined streets of the neighborhood. Snuggling on mom’s lap while she and dad sip pumpkin spice lattes by the bonfire in the backyard. Snagging the occasional apple slice that makes its way onto the kitchen floor while mom bakes one of her apple pies on a lazy Sunday afternoon. These are the fall moments to embrace. Haunted houses, spooky corn mazes and scary movies filled with blood, guts and gore? Not so much.

I can’t personally understand why anyone would ever purposely subject themselves to any of these fear-inducing fall traditions. But then again, I have my reasons. As one who has lived on the receiving side of abuse (both physical and verbal), I am here to testify fear is truly its own four-letter word.

And that’s coming from a four-legged mind that generally doesn’t process swear words. Dogs don’t swear. Sure, we have our own unique ways to demonstrate choice words. But that’s one of the perks of silence – we never really have the opportunity to say something we will later regret.Forgiveness

It doesn’t happen often in my forever home, but it used to happen a lot in my life before my forever people rescued me. People swearing, saying hurtful things they didn’t mean, and ultimately filling their lives with nothing but regret. Well, I guess I’m not sure about the regret part. That’s not for me to judge.

What I do know is the fears I have each have a reason, mostly relating to the man with the leather belt. He swore a lot. Usually after he’d been drinking. And he is the reason I grew to fear leather belts, power tools and vacuum cleaners.

I remember the way his breath smelled on my face the time he thought he would vacuum me because he hated all my shedding. I can picture the glazed look in his eyes when he thought he’d cut my nails with his cordless drill. And the belt. That was the worst of it. The belt wasn’t usually meant for me, at least until I intervened when he would use it on my dearest little Jo (my little person at the time).

But there is this thing about fear. It has a way of controlling us if we let it. And it’s a huge roadblock to the one combination of things that can cure regret: forgive and forget. I have long since forgiven the man, but I can honestly say I will never forget the fear. It’s a part of me I can’t truly shut off, even with my forever people. I have absolutely no reason to believe my dad would ever use his belt on me yet I still cower at the sight of it. The same goes for the vacuum and the drill.

So I don’t know why people purposely subject themselves to fearful things this time of year. It’s one of those people things I have accepted I may never understand. Instead I focus my emotional energy on the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,” he said. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

 

My Little Peace Ritual May 16, 2013

I have this nightly ritual I’m certain my forever parents must think of as complete madness. Every night, my ritual starts the same way at about the same time.

Some of the Comfort CrewI grab Mr. Prickles from my toy basket (I’ll never understand the purpose of this basket other than making fun inconvenient) and take him to my favorite place in the house. I’ll suck on him for a while, but not too long. Then I’ll grab Mrs. Prickles. Repeat. Then Mr. Flea. Repeat. Then Mr. Tiger. Repeat. Then Mr. Angry Bird. Repeat. Well, I think you get the idea. If I’m being honest, this routine would probably continue all night if I didn’t run out of toys and sleep wasn’t necessary.

I’ve previously referred to these (albeit stuffed) characters in my life as my Comfort Circle and for good reason. Ever since I was a pup, I have found comfort in nursing on the soft little bodies. Animal behaviorists have linked this behavior in doggie adulthood to early separation from one’s doggie momma and abuse in puppyhood. (I unfortunately experienced both of these things). Also, I’m not sure if all people know this, but us canines store up a lot of our pent up feelings in our jaw muscles. The shoulder tension of humans is the jaw tension of dogs. It physically relieves stress when I rhythmically nurse on the joys (er, I mean toys).

I understand science and psychology have their reasons but I have one more to add to the conversation. There is something pretty great about beingMe and My Gal transported to another place and time in your mind. That’s what these toys do for me, which I’m certain is why I find peace in my nightly ritual.

What transports you to another place and time in your mind? Do you find peace there?

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake,” said transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the Earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

Every night, my ritual ends the same way at about the same time. Before bedtime, dad puts my Comfort Circle collection back in the basket in the living room. And every night I hop off the bed, grab whichever one is closest to the top, and bring that special pal back to bed with me. (It’s usually Mr. or Mrs. Prickles, but I mix it up so the others don’t get jealous). I don’t care if my people think it’s crazy of me to repeat these behaviors night after night. And that’s not just because I know they love me unconditionally. It doesn’t bother me because I know my ritual is my way of making a pathway to peace in my mind that brings a smile to my heart.

And I prefer to sleep smiling.