Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Greatest Thing May 11, 2014

I think a lot of people think they know what’s coming. They’ve read the books. They’ve bought the supplies. They’ve been pregnant for nine months or ten or eight. I know the path to get there is different for everyone, but I think the outcome is the same. Or at least pretty similar.
No dogs allowed here. :(
Unconditional unspeakably sincere love. From the ground up, that is what I gather of motherhood. I’ve had a pretty vivid look into the ups and downs associated with this beloved title throughout the last few months. I would argue I’ve had the privilege of witnessing it for much longer than that, but when my dear little person was born – well, that sealed the deal.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been known to run away. To hide under the bed when the crying gets too much for me (or even when it’s slightly unbearable). I have this instinctual desire to make it better that balances itself with my selfish need to escape the situation. Mom has no such balance.

When baby Carter cries, it’s her instinct to heal what ails him. To fix it. Or at least to make it better somehow. The thing is it’s not always possible. Sometimes he just has a bad time of it. And I know this is certainly a very normal way to feel from time to time. I realized today it’s not that unlike the emotions I’ve seen mom encounter since she’s become a mother.

“Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing,” suggested American talk show host Ricki Lake. Certainly I’ve come to agree with both statements.

But I can’t say mom would. Regardless of the nine months of not-so-pleasurable pregnancy. The sleepless nights that followed. The breastfeeding (which I won’t even get into, because it was that hard an experience to watch at first). All of it. It has been far from easy. The opposite of great. Then there are those moments. The precious moments I am sure to participate in as frequently as possible.

I think a lot of people think they know what’s coming. But I’m not sure anything can fully prepare them for the snuggles. The smiles. The giggles. The developmental milestones he seems to be hitting well before what is considered to be the “norm.” These are all of the greatest things that more than snub out the hardest things.

 

Just What You’re Worth May 10, 2014

It made mom cry today. So I did what I do in such situations. I snuggled her while she cried. But there’s been a new addition to this situation in the last four months. His name is baby Carter, and I love him so. So does mom, which I think (at least partially) contributed to the tears today.

Because tomorrow is a special day around here. It is my dear forever mom’s first Mother’s Day. And I’m not going to lie. In my dear doggie eyes we have already been celebrating this holiday since I came to be in this, my forever home. Because But alas, now there is a little human puppy brother to really bring things to life and I cannot fault anyone from seeing it as the true first special day for my mom. She has, after all, been kind of beaming about it since a few days ago already.

But I knew it for sure today that this time was different. Because she and baby Carter have a song I’ve heard before once or twice. Or about a million times. Because since Carter was very small, she has either played or sung it to him. “Fix You” by Coldplay has become mom’s special song for Carter, because I know she doesn’t lie. She will fix him under any circumstance. She will love him above all else. She will always try to fix him even when he doesn’t realize he needs to be fixed. That is just what moms do.Love.

Tears often fall down his face for no good reason. And, sometimes as a result of those tears, we are so tired and still can’t sleep. But none of that matters. Because, like all those other moms out there, mom will try to fix any problem that arises. Because she loves baby Carter so much, it doesn’t matter what it takes.

It’s kind of a newfound thing around here. Because I know mom loves me. She always has, since that first day we made eye contact at the Oshkosh Humane Society. But I know (and respect) what she has with my beloved forever little person is different. He is her world now. And he is hers.

To me that is what causes tears like what I witnessed today. So I snuggled like I always do when my dear forever mom cries like she did today. She was clutching on to dear baby Carter as he clung to her. They love each other so. That might be what stands out most to me about that Coldplay song. There is a line “if you never try then you’ll never know what you’re worth.” And in that line I get it. Because I don’t think mother’s ever really understand what they’re worth.

My birth mom certainly didn’t. And I don’t think my forever mom could ever possibly know how much I appreciate her. So I can only imagine the level of awe dear baby Carter will have when he understands. If he understands. Because today when mom was crying as she held him close, I wondered if he could ever actually understand just how much she loves him. Just what he is worth to her.

Love. From the ground up, it happens with perspective. And experience. So I know for sure the tears of my dear forever mom will never be in vain. Because I know what she’s worth to me. Which is everything. Certainly baby Carter will feel the same way someday, if he doesn’t already.

 

Can’t Take Me With You December 12, 2013

Sleep has become a hot ticket item in the Schmidt house lately. The grunts and groans mom makes have increased in frequency and intensity. Something called indigestion has taken over mom’s life (or so she says). And it all has me a little bit jumpy.

Which way to the hospital?Until today. Today mom and dad went to that place called the doctor and got some good news. The baby is not in mom’s ribs anymore! In fact, my future little person has moved down into a position that is apparently quite safe for delivery.

They were talking in a bunch of numbers (something about centimeters and percentages and measurements) but it’s all Greek to me. What I gathered from the mood was this was all good news. So I should have been thrilled. Instead I felt a little betrayed.

Earlier today I wandered my way into the bag for the hospital. The good news is it is all packed up and ready to go. The bad news is there’s no room for me to be in it. I wouldn’t expect to be because of safety issues, but I realized today that’s not the real problem. The real problem is there is no room for me at the hospital either. No doggies allowed. How am I supposed to protect mom and the little person (and, let’s be honest, dad) if I am stuck at home? They rescued me. They are my people. I would be lost without them.

All of this sent me into what I guess you could call a doggie panic attack this afternoon while I waited for my people to return from the doctor. It was the closest I’ve ever come to doing something naughty (mom did leave those shoes by the back door that would have been mighty tasty). But I resisted the urge and I am so glad I did. Because when they returned with all of this good news I realized there will be no shortage of joy when they leave me behind to go to that hospital place.

And it wasn’t too long after they finished reminiscing about how soon everything will change that I saw it. A picture of me had made it’s way into the overnight bag. I don’t know how I’d missed it earlier. There I was in all my goofy glory, smiling at nothing in particular. And I felt relieved. Because I might not be able to accompany them, but I will certainly be there in spirit.

 

Rewriting the Story December 8, 2013

Thirteen. That is how many baby- and pregnancy-related books I counted in the Schmidt home today. If you ask me that is thirteen too many. Between the books and the pamphlets from the hospital and the email subscriptions and the web sites, my forever mom has become a battle bot of knowledge on all things baby.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Nothing of the sort. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – knowledge is power. But my observations lately inform me that information overload is not such a good thing either. Especially when third trimester hormones are involved. Too much information is making it very easy for her to feel overwhelmed, incapable, frustrated and fatigued. None of these are emotions I like to allow in the Schmidt home for too long if I can help it.

No more reading!But alas, my lack of opposable thumbs has kept me from removing the books from the residence. And (even if I did) she would still have all of the Internet resources at her fingertips. So you can imagine my relief when something magical happened today. The baby, my future little person, did the work for me.

It was freaky. And beautiful. And absurd. And amazing. I saw the baby move today. And it was all of these things and more to me. Mom has been seeing the little person moving for a couple of weeks now, but this was the first time I witnessed the miracle firstpaw. My stomach somersaulted when it happened, much like the baby appeared to be doing.

That’s when I realized I have nothing to worry about. There isn’t much I can do about the barrage of baby books throughout the house. (Thirteen, to be exact. But who’s counting?) Instead I have resolved to resume my stance that knowledge is power. Because I know that (like me) mom learns best by experiencing something. Living in the moment has much more profound an impact than words on a page.

So in that moment, when I could see mom’s tummy moving to and fro, I found comfort in the truth. It doesn’t matter what the baby books say. That little person will rewrite the story as soon as he or she is born. Forget the baby books. That is the story I can’t wait to start reading.

 

Seeing Through the Fog December 4, 2013

I can’t see a thing. This has been among my first thoughts of the day for three days in a row now. The days have begun like any other, except for when mom lets me outside in the morning. It’s been so unbelievably foggy, I feel completely blind. It’s a good thing I know my way around my backyard paradise so well.Seeing Through the Fog

Being encompassed by a dense fog like this reminds me of what it feels like to be overwhelmed. The fog can seem to close in from every direction. And you can’t see. You’re blinded by the realm of possibility. It doesn’t happen to me often as I’m fortunate enough to have a pretty simple life. From (albeit dreaded) regular visits to the veterinarian to the food in my bowl every day, my parents take really good care of me. There is no reason to feel overwhelmed.

Thank goodness for that because I don’t think I’m much of a fighter. I’ve always thought of myself as more a peacekeeper than anything else. But when I think of the fighters I’ve known in my life, one face comes to mind every time. Tiger. Now he was a fighter. I remember watching in disgust as he violently fought with other dogs for anything from a bone to a loaf of bread. He was always one step ahead of me when it came to finding the best food scraps in the neighborhood and I hated him for it.

That was, until I found out what he was really fighting for. He was providing for a small litter of puppies after the family lost their birth mom. Just like I had lost mine, only my deadbeat dad had left long before I was born. Tiger wasn’t like that. He stood by his family and fought for them in every sense of the word.

He was away hunting for food one day when the fog closed in on me. He’d left me to watch over the little ones before, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. But it was. That was the day one of the dogs Tiger had made an enemy decided to seek revenge. I’ve never felt so overwhelmed in my life. I was blinded by all the devastating ways I knew the story could end. But I couldn’t let that stop me. I needed to see through the fog. I needed to persevere.

So I used the only weapons I knew I had in my arsenal capable of defeating this strange dog with the crazy eyes. My brain and my heart. And (with a little help of a feline friend of mine), I won that particular battle. The puppies were safe. I was safe. Looking back I know it is because I decided to see through the fog to the heart of the matter. Maybe I’m more of a fighter than I thought I was.

 

A Little Touch October 22, 2013

It doesn’t take much. A pat on the head. A scratch behind the ear by the collar. An extra treat (or three). I really am a fool for the little things in life. Especially where love is concerned.

But I can’t say it’s been an easy lesson for me to learn. When I was a puppy, I learned the “how high” way of life. I jumped higher, ran faster, and dreamed bigger than any other dog I knew. It was a point of pride even, that I always had a fire lit inside me to be better. And I’m not saying that is a bad thing.How High?

To this day I startle people with how high I can jump. I can launch myself straight up into the air three or four feet. I even have this trick I learned to do with my mom where she pats her thighs and says “up” and I jump securely into her arms. These things bring me great joy that I can’t help but share with others. But bigger isn’t always better. Not everyone likes to be welcomed into my forever home with me jumping into their arms. And I’m okay with that.

I realized this tonight in the midst of a special moment I shared with mom. It was nothing new for the two of us – she was scratching behind my ear by my collar (an especially itchy spot of mine) and I did it. I wrapped my paw around her hand while she scratched. I do it all the time, but tonight it seemed to strike an emotional chord with her I haven’t noticed before. She seemed touched by my touch. It seems like such a little insignificant way to show I appreciate her scratches, yet it meant a lot to her. Certainly it meant more to her than how high I can jump on the visitors to my forever home.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things,” suggested American thinker Robert Brault. It sounds so simple, but it doesn’t take much. To show someone you care. To make someone smile. To be an ambassador for joy. I don’t need to jump five feet in the air to show how enthusiastic I am to welcome a visitor to our home. That’s not what joy from the ground up is all about. It’s about the simple little things, like the moments I shared with mom today. And a couple extra treats every now and then don’t hurt either.

 

Faith In the Future July 14, 2013

“Make the most of your regrets,” Henry David Thoreau once said. “Never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

Yesterday, I wrote about five things I would attempt to save if my house was burning down. Reflecting on the contradictory definitions a “spark,” I focused more on the fire than its aftermath. Its so easy to do in the heat of the moment. Why is it that in so many cases we don’t appreciate what we have until its gone?

Today, I realized all of the precious things I left behind. Practical things came to mind like my warm doggie bed and my Packer jersey. But I know those are replaceable. They’re just things.

Far more devastating are the memories lost in the ashes. I’ll never forget the first day my parents brought me home and let me explore my new house. All those hours spent playing fetch with Mrs. Prickles in the hallway. The first day mom let me come up on the bed. Money can’t buy back these memories.

I take a two-fold lesson from this experiment in thought. (See, there is always a silver lining).

1) Savor the small things. There are so many ways to lose sight of the importance of special moments in our lives. But there is a reason money can’t buy memories. Moments are priceless. There are groundbreaking days when major milestones make things easy to remember, but as Sarah Ban Breathnach points out in Simple Abundance “there is a lot of drudgery in most days.” These are the days we need to seek out joy in the small things.

2) Respect the past as preparation for the future. It’s all too easy to take things for granted. If we surrender to life’s simplicities and appreciate what we have on a daily basis, the future will be that much brighter. “I never regret anything,” says actress Drew Barrymore, “because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end.”

It is with my past in a special place in my heart that I find faith in the future. With faith as my fuel, I know my dreams will always be more exciting than my memories.

Today’s post is dedicated to Mandy Atkielski.

Eighteen-year-old Mandy entered doggie heaven yesterday. She will be missed.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Mandy

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Just Another Day July 6, 2013

Sleep. Eat. Play. Repeat. I realized it while I laid in the sun for who knows how long this afternoon. Some days in a dog’s life are utterly uneventful. There’s nothing spectacular happening around the house. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary in the backyard. No abnormal weather events or exciting visitors. No excursions out of the house. Just another day in a dog’s life.

Today I caught myself somewhat bitterly contemplating the possibilities, all of which seemed more exciting than the absolute nothing I was doing. I heard my forever parents discussing different ideas of things to do outside (some involving me, others not). Meanwhile my heart raced every time they thought they were sneaky spelling out w-a-l-k, as if I don’t know what that spells. (Sometimes it surprises me how little credit they give me in the smarts department.)

Feeling Sleepy On the Job

None of their well-intentioned plans came to pass. Instead, I half-watched half-slept through them doing various tasks around the house. Dusting, cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning the kitchen…didn’t they just do all this a few days ago?

Then it happened. Mom left dad and I alone to go to something called a concert with a friend of hers and the afternoon took a turn for adventure. Dad took me for a walk (which is even more exciting since that’s usually something I only do with mom), then we played catch outside, and some more in the house. Cuddle time came after that as we sat on the couch watching all the shows on the moving picture window mom doesn’t care for (mostly involving cars). It was a night to remember.

In the grand scheme of things, the night I had with dad was more of the same nothingness of the day. We didn’t do anything that spectacular (other than the walk which even I have to admit got pretty hot pretty fast), other than simply enjoying each other’s company. Some days are like that. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary happens. Instead it’s just par for the course. Just another day in a dog’s life. What a blessing that is! When I find myself feeling bitter about these moments of peace, I am going to remember today and embrace the possibilities that lie in what may be disguised as nothingness. Because as American singers Simon and Garfunkel put it, “I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.”

 

 

A Tail of Two Faces July 1, 2013

I’m not that big a fan of things that are two-faced in life.

Take my favorite red leash for example. When mom grabs it out I go absolutely crazy with excitement because I know it means I’m accompanying her somewhere. It doesn’t even matter where we’re going since I love our adventures so much. But there is a dark side to my precious red leash. Just as it signals the beginning of a journey, as it does also mark the journey’s end. It’s the worst when we’re leaving a family gathering or (worse yet) the dog park.

I think my mom is on to my evade-the-leash game, to the point where I don’t think she finds much humor in it anymore. Last week, she essentially chased me around the entirety of the park’s limits before I finally let her win. The same thing happened today, after I encountered another two-faced friend of mine.

Water. It’s refreshing, nourishing, and necessary to living. So you can’t blame me for finding my way back to the fabulous mud puddles I discovered recently and staging a wrestling match with Sage the lab mix. (Can you?) We chased and wrestled ourselves until we were both adequately exhausted. I don’t understand why Sage chose to leave the mud puddle, as I found it to be an incredibly cool and relaxing place to laze and appreciate the splendor of the park. I also don’t understand why my mom got so upset with me and scolded me until I left my own personal spa pool.

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The water I love stabbed me in the back (literally) about an hour later when I got not one, but two separate baths. One without soap (which apparently proved insufficient) and one with soap. I hate baths. There’s nothing worse than the humiliation of the chilly water shrinking me to a third of my usual size, being rubbed down with perfumed shampoo and emerging covered in a scent that is nothing like my own natural smell when it’s all over. And I have to stay off the comfy furniture for what seems like forever afterward!

While my favorable opinion of both my favorite red leash and water remain unchanged by the events of the day, I definitely learned something from my experience with two-faced things in life. I don’t care for them. Fake is not a favorite people word of mine. Representing something is not the same as living it. Breathing it. Being it. It’s not worth it to mask who you really are because (spoiler alert) the world sees the truth. Hiding it from yourself doesn’t hide it from the world. Be honest with the world. Be honest with yourself. Be you.

 

I’m So Jealous May 23, 2013

I heard overheard my grandma on the phone today re-living a moment of my forever mom’s life as a little person that is too good not to share. I’m not sure who she was talking to, but my ears perked up at the mention of my mom’s name and I remained a captive audience through the end of the adorable story.

So Jealous

When my mom was a little more than three people years old, she learned she would soon become a big sister. Not knowing much about what that meant, my mom’s biggest fear was that her parents wouldn’t love her as much now that they had to share their love with another little person. She tried her best to mask these feelings, but let’s face it – toddlers aren’t the best at keeping secrets.

But as time went on, her understanding of the word that described her emotions (jealousy) was somehow painted into a much different emotional dimension. My mom heard countless conversations with people who referred to her as if she wasn’t present and actively listening to the conversation. “How is she doing with jealousy?” people asked. “Is she good at sharing?” “Is she getting jealous during all the excitement of planning and preparation?”

Nine months later, when her little sister was born, all concern vanished instantly as she was overcome with emotion. “I’m so jealous,” she said to her baby sister as she stroked her tiny little head with the sincerest look of love in her eyes. The meaning of the word was lost on her three-year-old mind, but she’d heard it so frequently throughout the course of the recent months that she confused it for another word entirely. To her, jealous didn’t mean something negative, but rather was equivalent to joy, happiness and love.

Again, the mind of a little person lights the way to a better, brighter (albeit confused) outlook on life. Optimist or otherwise, t’s no secret to the world that attention is probably one of my favorite things. So much so that I love any and every opportunity to be played with, walked, petted, cuddled with, or any similar activity that provides me the role of being center of attention.

Yet I know in my little doggie heart that someday, if I ever become a big brother to a little person in my forever home, I will be able to abdicate my proverbial attention throne and take on a new role as protector to the newest keeper of wisdom in the house. I know it might be tough at first, just like it was for my mom and her little sister, but I too hope to one day as I look down at the little person and think to myself with nothing by love in my heart how jealous I am.