Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Healing Pain December 16, 2014

At first it was fairly subtle. A faint twitch here and there. Slightly less time on that Smartphone contraption. A few less pets than usual when she visited. From there it seemed to escalate at a surprisingly speedy pace. The twitching became more noticeable. The Smartphone was set aside more frequently. Almost no pets (but lots of verbal love) when she visited. Gratitude

It turns out my dear aunt Morgan has carpal tunnel. In both her hands. Her case seemed to worsen overnight to the point where I noticed her frequently shaking out her tingling hands to lessen the pain. I cringed when I overheard the stories she told my forever mom about waking up screaming in pain. No one I love should ever hurt like that.

Well, today is a new day for my dear aunt Morgan’s hands. A fresh start. Today marks the day of the first of two surgeries to repair her damaged wrists and, in doing so, restore her quality of life. So she can use her hands like a normal person again. I’ve missed those pets, after all.

Joking aside, it really pains me when someone I care about is hurting. Physically. Emotionally. Psychologically. Pain is not one of my favorite things. But if there’s something pain has taught me, it’s to not take anything for granted. Some things aren’t fixable with surgery or therapy or whatever other interventions are out there. And life has a way of working itself out.

Fortunately, many things are fixable. If all goes well, my dear aunt’s hands will be among them so there will be no more twitching and pain. Pets will be restored. The pain of the past will be replaced by a new pain, which I suppose is the only kind I don’t particularly mind. A healing pain. After watching first-paw something so subtle rapidly turn into something so terribly painful, take it from me. A healing pain is a good pain. Because as Gautama Buddha suggested “pain is inevitable in life, but suffering is optional.”

 

I’ll Be Missing You September 24, 2014

It sounded so silly when I heard it out loud. Because when it comes to routine, I’m a number one fan. I think a lot of other four-legged friends would agree that structure is the way to go. But today I heard mom say something that confused me at first.

She was talking with dad about how it is possible for routine to get in the way of relationships. Habits, and all they encompass, can sometimes be a bad thing. At the root of her concern was mention of the idea that you can see someone frequently and still miss them. There are a variety of contributing factors to the aforementioned breakdown in communication, and not all of them are bad. 

Take, for instance, my mom and her sister (fondly known as Aunt Morgan). Since I’ve been part of this family, mom and Morgan have spent a lot of time apart, while Morgan lived in a different part of the state. That changed about a year ago, when she moved back to town into an apartment a mere five minutes or so away from my forever home. And when dear baby Carter was born, she was our biggest source of support from day one. She brought to life the idea of being there for someone (or in our case someones), spending countless hours caring for Carter while mom caught up on housework, ran errands, or snuck in a quick nap.

To this day, she is over here a few days a week, albeit not for extended periods of time, but her presence is welcome. Yet, while there is no absence of presence, mom told dad today that she misses her.

It sounded so silly when I heard it out loud. It didn’t make sense to me at first. But the more I thought about it, the more alive the idea became. I think it is entirely possible to get so caught up in routine and schedules and errands and chores that you can end up missing everything a relationship has to offer. Like companionship, ridiculous laughter, and all kinds of other shenanigans that breathe life into the structure. I get it now.

And now that it makes sense to me, I decided to recommit to the relationships in my life. To respecting routine, but not letting it get in the way what really matters. Relationships. From the ground up, they are the world’s most complex puzzle. But I’ll figure it all out someday, I promise.

 

Slow It Down July 13, 2014

It’s pretty funny to me when mom says it out loud. Mostly because when she says it, I feel like she’s bringing my thoughts to life in a way only words can. “Stop it,” she’ll say to dear baby Carter. He keeps growing and getting stronger and more independent and we all know it’s all very good. He is hitting all of the baby milestones as he should be. He’s almost crawling already for goodness sakes. It feels like yesterday he was just a teeny tiny blob of joy (and tears). So mom tells him to stop it. I know she’s being silly, but it’s true sometimes.Life.

I think it’s kind of like wanting to hit the pause button on a beautiful moment. We’ve had a lot of those lately.

Like today, when we as family celebrated the birthday of my forever mom. She turned 29 today, and with that came a variety of moments I wished I could slow down. Moments I wish I could pause. Like the special time we all shared cuddling together this morning. Her and dad and baby Carter and I. Or the breakfast mom and dad shared on the patio. Or when aunt Morgan came to watch Carter and I while mom and dad went exploring somewhere. Or when they came back with treats for everyone. Or when Carter fell asleep on mom for the first time in a long time and she cried tears of joy. Or when mom and baby Carter swam laps around the neighbor’s pool (otherwise known as mom kicked around and Carter was along for the ride).

These are some of the moments that happened today I wished I could pause.

“God gave us the gift of life,” said French Enlightenment writer Voltaire, “it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”

It’s pretty funny to me when mom says it out loud. Yet I know it to be true. Sometimes we need to stop it. Sometimes we need to pause. Because it is when we do, when we slow down and take in everything happening around us, that we are reminded of the gift life truly is. In these moments we don’t just know joy. We live it.

 

A Cup of Joe June 23, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 10:30 pm
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I think it’s a great idea. It’s one of those things you hear and think you wish you would have thought of that. That, or you realize you have thought of it already (perhaps before this person did) so why didn’t you do something about it? My dear aunt Morgan is tossing around the idea of starting a coffee business. That’s the daring entrepreneurial spirit she was born and raised to have, that’s for sure.

I know it could be risky, but this is a risk I can stand behind. It’s like a food truck, but for coffee, and she would call it “A Cup of Joe” after her dog Joey. Joey (who is just about one of the cutest doggies you’ve ever seen) could be her mascot and all things public relations for the business.

It all sounds like a lot of work to me. But that’s because I like to spend the majority of my day napping in various spots throughout my forever home. Morgan is young and free to do so much in life. And I know she can. I guess I always have, but it was somehow reaffirmed in my mind today.

Because great ideas happen all the time. Kind of like those commercials you see for the product you thought of ten years ago but never followed through with inventing. The difference is vision. Today as I listened, I heard it come alive.

“Vision without action is merely a dream,” suggested author Joel A. Barker. “Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”

It might sound silly, but I the right combination of action and vision can bring clarity to even the haziest of futures. Maybe it can even do so one cup of coffee at a time.

Joey and I

 

 

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.

 

Give and Take March 28, 2014

It’s been a long time coming. Yet it seemed to pass with the blink of an eye. Today was mom’s last day at that place called work. And I thought she’d be excited. Instead I was met with mixed emotions upon her return home. It wasn’t until later that I understood why.

Get what you giveIt had been a busy day around here, with my grandma and aunt Morgan spending time with baby Carter and I. There was an incident involving a teeny tiny cut that happened when Morgan was cutting Carter’s itsy bitsy nails. He cried. Grandma and Morgan cried. If I could, I would have cried. It was tough on everyone because we all know no one would intentionally hurt our dear little person. Yet he was hurt today.

I thought it was oddly poetic that mom seemed a little hurt too. She invested a tremendous amount of herself in that place, but even more so in the people it included. They became her work family. They came to her with troubles and she never once turned them away. As they took other opportunities in and outside the organization, she celebrated their success. She worked almost as hard to foster relationships as she did at her job itself.

So today, when she left the office for the last time with her box of office keepsakes, she did so with a heavy heart. Because she quite honestly didn’t feel very loved. Her work family let her go with very little fanfare. It was all too soon forgotten how she cared for them in time of need. And as she is taking an opportunity outside the organization, very few peopled celebrated her success.

But that’s the thing about give and take. It doesn’t always turn out like we plan. Just like no one would intentionally hurt dear baby Carter, I believe no one meant to hurt mom today. And I think deep down she knows that too. Or at least she does a pretty good job of pretending.

Because it has indeed been a long time coming. And it has passed in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t matter that mom didn’t take much fanfare home with her today. She gave 110%. That’s what really matters anyway.

 

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.

 

When It Rains March 17, 2014

It started at 1:23 a.m. That is when baby Carter started crying (all right, more like screaming), almost an hour an a half before he usually wakes up hungry this morning. So mom and dad got up, fed him, and went back to bed. Mom wasn’t sleeping very well to begin with, so I snuggled my best. I’m not sure it mattered.

Then at 5:36 a.m. the phone calls and text messages started. My dear grandma, who was all set to babysit baby Carter on mom’s first day back to work, couldn’t come. She broke a tooth eating breakfast of all things, and needed to get in to see a dentist as soon as possible. Thank goodness for my aunt Morgan, who swooped in to save the day.

Though I’m not entirely sure she saved much other than Carter and I, since it was definitely one of those days for mom. The kind that never ends even though you wish you could just go to bed and have it be tomorrow. The polar opposite of the kind of days you savor. The kind that when it rains it pours. Because when she got back to work, she was greeted by far more than she expected. Far more than she would be capable of catching up on in a day (let alone a month or two). For some, this would be an easy enough mountain to climb. Slow and steady. For mom, who cares so very deeply for doing the right thing even if it hurts, it was like a punch to the stomach.

I know as well as anyone she hates to let people down, and that is exactly what she felt like from the moment she got to back to work. She was letting Carter (and me) down because she left. She was letting her clients down because she couldn’t take care of them all at once. Ultimately, she let herself down because of letting all of this get to her.

Meanwhile, I was home monitoring the Carter situation and he was not happy. It started again yesterday – after days (or maybe weeks?) of fairly decent behavior, he started crying inexplicably. All the time. Morgan rocked him and sang to him and fed him and changed him and dressed him and nothing seemed to work. If I didn’t know better, I would say he and mom are on some sort of level emotional playing field. The way she has been crying the last couple of days mirrors his cries in a way I can’t think is a coincidence.

But it ended at 9:08 p.m. Baby Carter finally fell asleep. And mom and dad breathed a collective sigh of relief. Because let’s be honest. Sometimes there are days like this. Days with very little (if any) silver lining. Days that just plain run us down. When it rains it pours. But at least I know one thing for sure. That rainbow always follows the storm.

 

All In the Family January 23, 2014

A memory long forgotten. The motivation to run another mile. The last piece to a mysterious puzzle. In a few precious beats, music can evoke so many reactions deep within our hearts and minds. Today it brought laughter to my living room.

It started simply as it always does. The cast of characters is familiar, including my mom, dad, aunt Morgan, grandma and baby Carter. One second Carter was crying, the next he wasn’t. The crying ceased almost instantly upon the start of mom, Morgan and grandma singing.Family

“A stinky foofter is a smelly fart,” they cooed, “it wafts through the air, making nostrils flair. Some will turn away…others sniff, shrug and stay…a stinky foofter is a smelly fart.” And, as if on cue, a baby foofter resonated through the room as the verse drew to a close. It never ceases to amaze me how such a small person can emit such noises. And (even though he had absolutely no idea what was happening) his comic timing was uncanny.

It was a song they made up when mom and her sister were young. For those of you who are unfamiliar, foofter is our family’s word for fart, as it was long ago deemed less offensive than its counterpart in reference to human gas emission. The song is an ode both to the ridiculousness of the word itself, as well as to the quirks of the family.

Everyone knows it could hardly pass as music to anyone other than us. Most people would probably find it to be absolute gibberish. But it doesn’t matter. It worked. Carter stopped crying. And my people were laughing together. In that moment I felt completely overwhelmed with love for my (albeit admittedly quirky) loved ones. Because that’s the thing about family. From the ground up, we love. Wholeheartedly and completely and in spite of (as well as because of) all the things that make us a unique sum of our parts.

“In every conceivable manner, the family is the link to our past, bridge to our future,” suggested American writer Alex Haley.

Today music brought laughter to my living room. And with it came a reminder. Family. We need them for so much. But sometimes we need them for so little. Like a smile. Or a hug. Or, in my case today, a round of laughter thanks to an absolutely ridiculous bit of nonsense.

 

The Love Tree October 13, 2013

Normally I don’t care much for those things they call Smartphones. They draw attention away from where it belongs (i.e. the company we keep, namely me). They distract people on car rides. And I don’t think they are really all that smart.

But today I witnessed firsthand what I suppose would be the one silver lining within these things called Smartphones. Randomness. This may come as a surprise given my open belief that everything happens for a reason, but it is a concept I can appreciate (and even find some humor in) within the right context. Today, for example, the context made for a pretty special moment of randomness even I could appreciate.Who do you love?

“I love you.” That was it. That’s all the text message contained. And (to be honest) that’s all it needed to say. Mom received that message from her little sister Morgan this afternoon and I’m pretty sure it made her day. Which made my day. Which got me to thinking (of course) about this people theory of randomness.

As I basked in the warmth of another unusually warm fall day, I took note of the tree (my favorite in my backyard paradise) above me. I looked up at the branches, each reaching out to the next. Connecting.

It reminded me of the random bit of love mom received from Morgan. Morgan shared love with mom, who shared it with me, and now I’m sharing it with you. Random? I’m not so sure. But love needs no explanation. And each bit of random love is like a branch, reaching to the next. Connecting.

“Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit,” Lebanese thinker Khalil Gibran suggested. Well then (I thought to myself as I drifted away into the fabulous dreamland of my second afternoon nap) we must do all we can to share random moments of love with those around us. Heaven forbid anyone experience a life without love.

Morgan shared it with mom, mom shared it with me, and now I share it with you. Please consider reaching out to someone sometime soon. Connecting. Whether in person, on the phone or (gasp) even in a text on one of those Smartphones. Tell them they are loved. Because as ancient Greek theologian Saint Basil proposed, “a tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”