Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Walk the Walk November 19, 2013

It doesn’t matter whether you have two legs or four. Body language says a lot. I know it is often referred to as nonverbal communication, but my time as a ground-level observer of people has taught me how loudly silence speaks. And if I’m going to talk the talk, I had best walk the walk.

Take today, for example. There I was, soaking in the sun in my (albeit chilly) backyard paradise when my lead (the one that functions primarily as a deterrent to my own canine version of attention deficit disorder) snapped.

It wasn’t my doing – the material simply died of old age. And in those few seconds the world seemed to come to a complete halt around me. My heart raced. This was my moment. If I wanted, I could take off. Explore the world. I could find my way back, right? Body language

That’s when it happened. I closed my eyes for a second and relived the beautiful exchange between my forever people a few days ago when dad finally felt the little person kicking. “Hey there little guy,” he said to mom’s tummy, “I can’t wait to meet you.” Life. From the ground up, it was embodied in the body language of that moment. From the look on their faces to that little person kicking away, so much was said with no words at all.

Body language has been speaking up around here lately. So today I decided to join the conversation. I took a stand today, in doing what I hope made a very important point to my people. They are my people and I never want to risk losing them for something as silly as an adventure outside my backyard paradise.

Instead, I wandered myself to the back door like nothing had happened, business as usual. Mom wasn’t home from that place called work yet, but dad was. And when he saw me standing there, severed from my lead and patiently waiting to be let back into my forever home, it happened again. Joy. From the ground up, I felt it coming from my forever dad. And the best part was he didn’t have to say a word.

 

How Are You Really? July 30, 2013

I’m not proud to admit this but I sent Mrs. Prickles to the emergency room recently.

One minute I was nursing on her as usual, and the next minute I couldn’t keep myself from tearing the little white fluff balls out of her. Both are instinctual behaviors for me, yet I was surprised to find myself enjoying the task of removing fluff balls. Several of the other members who make up my comfort circle have similar holes in them that I leave alone. So why now did I find myself losing control?

Truth be told, I don’t know what happened. And I think that happens sometimes. We get so caught up in something it kind of takes over our motor functions until someone brings us back to reality. I didn’t want to hurt Mrs. Prickles. I didn’t mean to. But I did.

 

It makes me stop and think about how I see people interacting with one another. With everything going on in people’s lives it can be so easy to get caught up in things and not pay attention to what is happening around you. It brings to mind a commonplace people conversation I have overheard one too many times. Person one asks person two how they are. Person two responds with a generally generic answer like super, swell, good or (on occasion) terrible. Person two then turns the question back to person one. How are you? Sometimes the conversation continues, sometimes not.Thinking of You

What bothers me about this interaction is that it always seems to me to be on autopilot. Just like me and Mrs. Prickles. The people are (more often than not) just having the conversation to be polite and really neither person cares all that much about how the other person is doing. Not really. So why do we ask the question?

Why did I start uncontrollably taking fluff balls out of one of my favorite toys? It’s in our nature. Something in my nature (that I don’t particularly care to embrace or understand) encouraged me to rip Mrs. Prickles (who I happen to love) to pieces. Something in people nature makes them feel the need to start conversations in which their heart isn’t invested.

And I’m not saying these are bad things. Without our nature we wouldn’t be who we are, after all. But I am in the business of challenging what’s easy. Mrs. Prickles is all fixed now, no thanks to me. (I’m going to do what I can to keep it that way). I have, after all, also seen the polite “how are you” question develop into much deeper people conversations. So maybe its worth it to take life off autopilot every once in a while.

 

The Grief Tunnel June 3, 2013

Four years ago today, my mom’s life changed forever. It was mid-afternoon, and she was feeling incredibly accomplished after having submitted several job applications. (She had been laid off from a gig at the local newspaper two weeks prior). She confidently clicked the “submit” button, smiling because she knew someone that knew someone there who would certainly give her a positive recommendation. Then it happened.

The phone rang, she answered it, and so began the blur of sudden death and it’s aftermath. It is one of those days that everyone involved remembers to the moment where they were and what they were doing at various times throughout the day. Passing through their lives as death waited with baited breath to knock so unkindly at their door.

But all have emerged, and as a general observer of people I’d have to say they have all become stronger because of it. I may only be a dog, but my heart tells me there is no timeframe for grief. Everyone takes different paths along their own emotional journey to recovery, and it is not a race. There is no right way to grieve either. It’s one of those situations you never wish to be in, but once it happens you somehow work through it blindly until you see the light of hope at the end of the tunnel.

I am proud to report my observation of that light shining surprisingly brightly today. Mom surprised me by getting home a little earlier than usual, and with her was my grandma. They didn’t look sad or pensive. Quite the opposite, in fact. They were laughing about something or another. The real kind of laugh where you could see right through their tearing eyes to the joy in their hearts. It was a sight that made my heart smile.

I didn’t know my mom four years ago, but I can picture that day vividly in my mind. I can see her enthusiasm working away on the computer. I can feel the shock that followed that phone call. I didn’t know her then, but I know her now and I would say that she (and grandma for that matter) are on a healthy path to recovery. It hasn’t been perfect and I don’t expect perfection to start now, but there is something to say for reaching the end of those stages of grief everyone talks about. Shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining and depression round out the first parts of the process. Then follows the upward turn, reconstruction, and acceptance. Hope. Like grief, experience has led me to believe hope is a living, breathing thing that is fueled by our thoughts and emotions.

Today I turn all my extra emotional energy, all of my positive thoughts, toward hope. For my mom and dad. For my grandma and my aunt. And for the bright light at the end of the grief tunnel.Eyes on the Prize

Related article: Let Me Be A Lantern of Love – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/01/05/let-me-be-a-lantern-of-love/

 

You’ve Got a Friend In Me March 29, 2013

Guy friends are underestimated if you ask me. I mean, everyone always talks about the sisterhood of the traveling collars, but I’m not so sure. Guys are simple. We see things for what they are and usually say so.

I’ve recently been spending a little extra time with my guy pal Diesel. Six months ago, I was bigger than him and now he’s bigger than me. I suppose size doesn’t matter in friendships though, so I digress.

From what I’ve seen and heard about gals, that’s not always the case. I don’t mean to generalize as I’m certain not all gal pals are the same. But I do think there is a certain encouragement of judgmental thinking and unreasonably high standards for things I just don’t understand.

Diesel and Me

I’ve struggled with this lately on my journey with Simple Abundance. I “cheated” recently and looked ahead a few days and it’s more of the same commentary on low self-esteem and finding your inner fashion sense. I may not identify with the message, but I certainly agree.

I’m all for outfitting our authentic selves in a way that empowers us to conquer daily life, but I don’t appreciate the pressure generally put on women in our society to present better than they might actually feel. I mean, some days you just want to laze around and be comfortable. Those days shouldn’t have to come with pressure to look or act a certain way.

Diesel and I have this thing we agree on that I think makes us the friends we are. Our moms are pretty great, even if they occasionally don’t think they are. I know the pressures of the world are tough on women, and as a result challenge their relationships with each other.

That’s what I like about being a guy. We can be lazy. It’s almost expected some of the time. I might be simple, but in my opinion simplicity opens a door to emotional openness that provides purpose to what some may see as laziness. We have all kinds of extra emotional energy to spend on making sure the womenfolk in our lives feel special.