Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Getting Back Up March 3, 2015

I honestly couldn’t handle it. I saw it happen. I heard the sound when it happened. And I knew crying would come next. So I did the cowardly thing and ran away to hide in the bedroom, because I just couldn’t stand to even find out what the aftermath of all that action was.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. My dear baby Carter was all over the place today, climbing things not meant to be climbed, ripping any form of paper he could get his hands on and running. So much running. Before

All of that came to a screeching halt when he was attempting to dismount one of his toys and take off in a full run in one fell swoop. He failed, whacking his head on the hardwood floor pretty good in the process. In the realm of his cries (I’ve come to know them all), it surprised me that this one seemed fairly well under control. And it honestly didn’t last nearly as long as I had thought it would.

I found out later he was also gushing blood from his mouth, where his fairly new set of teeth tore into his top and bottom lip. So you can imagine my surprise when the crying stopped a few minutes after it started. The terrible sound was replaced with the happy toddler babble that preceded the fall. That was a relief enough that I returned to the scene of the crime to check it out. All was well.

But in those moments after it happened, I ran. Mom couldn’t run. I know she was scared, and seeing the blood must have been terrible. I heard her and dad recapping what happened over dinner, and in that moment I felt a gush of pride over the parents they have become.

They both hated that it happened at all. And it was scary (especially for mom). Yet ultimately, they both realized it was probably way worse for them than it was for him. They don’t want anything bad to ever happen to their little boy. Obviously. In spite of all their best efforts, they were reminded today that it’s going to happen. He is going to fall down. And he’s going to get hurt. But it’s okay.

Because it’s getting back up that matters.

 

All That Worry March 1, 2015

I guess you could say I’m a sore loser. I’m not ashamed to admit it. The simple truth is I don’t particularly care to engage in things that I don’t think I can excel at. I prefer to quality over quantity anyway.

So you can imagine my dismay when certain things in my life that are completely beyond my control. If I had my way, there would be no worry or stress or anger in the lives of my loved ones. But alas, none of that falls within my realm of reason.The "stuff" and me

Instead I watch as people I care about, namely my forever mom, let things bother her to the point of sleeplessness and restless anxiety. The worry is real, and I don’t fault her for that. Yet things have a way of coming full circle emotionally in such a way that I wish we could just bypass the stress and get right to the relief.

Take the scare mom had with her pregnancy recently. She haunted herself by consulting Dr. Google for answers about something she should have just listened to her doctor about. As a result, she became so blinded by the worst case scenario that hope seemed like a distant memory.

Then this week, she got confirmation from her doctor that everything worked out. The concern is no longer a concern. Cautious optimism has been replaced by relief.

Which leads me to question what the point of worry is in the first place. Or really any negative emotional struggle people face. Hence my constant inner struggle.

Because I can’t control it. I can’t win every battle. And as much as I hate any lose-lose situation, I know we can’t win them all. Fortunately, I also know we don’t have to. So many times I find any battle worth fighting is most likely also a battle worth losing. Life has taught me things have a way of working out in spite of our best efforts to complicate things. So in reality, many of our short-term losses are actually long-term wins. It just takes a little time for us to realize it.

 

 

Not-So Happy Endings February 6, 2015

I wonder sometimes why things happen a certain way. Why, in a world filled with such distinctly exciting opportunities for joy, are there any stories of hate? Why do there have to be bad days mixed with good? And why (oh why?) do bad things happen to good people?

I seek to find the good in all people, places and things. And I thought for sure I had found it in this story. A few months ago, a friend of mom’s took in 10-year-old Eddy to save his life. His owner decided he was too much work in his old age and tried awful things to encourage him to move along. She hit him with a garbage can. She tried to shoo him out the door and run him down the street. She thought about leaving him in the garage until he starved to death. These are real and horrible things she tried to do to rid him from her life.

In swooped her daughter, Margaret, to save the day. Margaret has since offered her home to Eddy, even though she has a small child and another dog to care for already. She has cared for him and seen him through multiple emergency visits to the veterinarian for issues with his diabetes and a urinary tract infection. Because she loves him. Praying :)

Which makes this new chapter to the story that much harder to tell. Dear Eddy has been nipping at Margaret’s nine-month-old son for a couple of days now. And it’s not getting any better, in spite of training and other intervention methods. He is irritable and often is the reason the baby misses naps during the day and can’t sleep through the night. In spite of the love Margaret’s heart, something’s got to give.

I can’t imagine a harder decision than the one she faces. Eddy is miserable. He’s unhappy. He’s uncomfortable. But he’s loved, and in that way he is incredibly blessed.

Sometimes I don’t understand why these kinds of things happen. Why the family who has come to the rescue has to suffer like this. Why Eddy would purposely put a little person in harm’s way. And why stories like this don’t seem to have happy endings.

But, in reality, they do. Eddy has known the love of a person. The real and unconditional love that exists between a dog mom and her dog. He’s lived a relatively long and happy life that (until recently) knew no pain or misfortune. So I suppose if the time has come for him to go wait for Margaret at the Rainbow Bridge, the happy ending is, in fact, in the story itself after all.

 

This Favorite Phase of Mine February 4, 2015

I’m honestly trying not to get too excited about it. If there is something I have come to learn about little people I didn’t know before, it’s that everything seems to happen in phases.

For me, it started with the oblivious phase. I may as well not have existed at all in those first couple of months. Coincidentally, this was also the time I fell into somewhat of a sad place and found myself spending a little too much time under the bed in my forever parents’ bedroom.

Then came the smiling phase, where the simple sight of me entering the room (or his unsteady-headed line of sight for that matter) would cause the most sincere sense of what can only be described as pure glee all over his face. And so I started spending a little less time in hiding.

After that, it only has gotten more interesting. I wasn’t such a big fan of the fur pulling and tail yanking phase, which (thankfully) does seem to be behind us now.

Then there was the first time he started feeding me goodies from his high chair. This phase hasn’t ended yet, and I hope it never does.

But recently he’s taken to this new thing he only used to do with his stuffed animals. And it’s a far cry from the agony I experienced that one time he was poking around in my eye, let me tell you. This is nice, in a way that fills my heart with love for this continuously changing little person even if I can’t keep up with the changes.A Boy and His Dog

It’s called a hug. From the ground up, it’s one of the most real and honest things I’ve come to know about people behavior. And I love them. I get them from my forever parents all the time whether I need them or not, and now it’s started with Carter.

He’s no hug expert. Not yet anyway. He’s much better at it with people than with me, who he tends to clumsily smother with all his weight in his attempts. But I know enough about the emotion behind the behavior itself that I don’t ask questions. Like the food phase, I hope it never ends.

Because if there’s something I’ve come to understand about those little people, it’s that everything seems to happen in phases. And just when you figure it out, it seems to pass you right by. So I’ve decided to pretend I haven’t noticed it at all. Maybe that way this phase, this favorite phase of mine, will be here to stay.

 

Like No One’s Watching January 9, 2015

It starts with a little sway. Some might even consider it more of a shimmy. It’s subtle. Almost too subtle for an unfamiliar eye to pick up. As the moments pass, the motion gets a little more noticeable, particularly in the region of the left arm, which starts to swing. It is definitely a sight to be seen.

Dear baby Carter is a dancing fool all of a sudden. As one of his primary caretakers, I can speak knowledgeably on the topic of his distinct appreciation for music from a very (very) early age. But now that he has figured out how to really express himself through dance, his one-year-old self just can’t help but feel the rhythm. If there is a song to be heard, he will listen. And there will be dancing.

As it happened tonight to Jason Mraz’ “Waiting on the World to Change,” the whole family got involved. Even me, as I heard my forever mom say those familiar words. “Wiley, up.” And up I went into her arms. So there we were again, dancing around like no one was watching just like mom and I used to do around the kitchen. Just like we did when mom was pregnant. Just like we did before Carter was walking.

Like no one's watching

It all got me to thinking about this passage of time with a little person around. It really does seem to fly by a lot more swiftly than it used to. At each step of the way, I know mom’s thinking it. When it was just her, dad and I, we were family and life was good. When all tiny little baby Carter wanted to do was snuggle into shoulder and sleep for hours at a time, that had to be the best time. Or maybe it was when he started smiling at her (and shortly thereafter, me). Or when he started talking. Or the first times he said mama and dada and doggie.

No. It has to be this time, when we are all dancing together for the first time.

That’s the catch. We keep waiting on the world to change and thinking there is no possible way the change can be any better than this moment. Yet every stage in life we’ve encountered together has been so special. It has been so uniquely different from the last stage, yet fills our hearts with the same warmth each and every time we let it.

This week it’s dancing. Next week, who knows? But I sure can’t wait to find out.

 

Forgive and Forget January 5, 2015

It was worse than I thought. Way worse. True to form, it seems to me that negativity spread like wildfire today as it has a way of doing if we let it. I’m sure it didn’t help that we are experiencing record low temperatures around here (with wind chills in the -30 degree range, whatever that means). And I think that thing called work had a lot to do with it as well.

Regardless of the reason, it seems to me like today is a day where more than one person I care about just wants to put behind them. Individual circumstances vary, but I get the impression that tomorrow can’t come soon enough.

Dear aunt Morgan’s car wouldn’t start. My grandma slipped on some ice getting her mail and hurt her knee. My mom’s friend Mel had an abnormally challenging day. Work was generally impossible for everyone I encountered.

Around here, dad had a generally awful day. And mom spent a lot of time on the phone while trying to simultaneously tend to a very whiny dear baby Carter. I knew it was worse than usual when she lost her temper and shouted at him to shut up. It isn’t like her to yell at him like that, and the tone of her voice sent even me into a panic as I ran off into the nearest corner.

The breaking point. From the ground up, it looks different for everyone. I saw mom’s today and it wasn’t pretty. But something tells me she wasn’t alone. She isn’t alone. It happens to everyone from time to time for a variety of reasons.

And today I think I found the antidote. Because it was worse than I thought. Going back to reality wasn’t just tough for my dad as I feared it would be, but for a lot of people I care about. So when it happened later this afternoon, I felt my heart leap out of my chest with joy.

He forgave her. Even though the look in his eyes when mom hollered at him was one of surprised terror, when Carter woke up from his afternoon nap a couple hours later, all was forgiven and forgotten. I knew it for sure because when she went to get him out of his crib, he was even happier to see her than usual. He was standing there to greet her, and when she opened the door he literally giggled with glee to the point where his smile was making him shake with happiness. Mom hasn’t laughed so hard in days.

It reminded me it is possible to forgive and forget more than just people. Days are awful sometimes. And they happen to all of us. But there is always tomorrow, so why not forgive today?

 

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.”

 

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.

 

 

A Life Worth Fixing November 23, 2014

There’s a simple truth I’ve come to know as an observer of people. It almost never takes as long for a person to break down as it does to recover.

The same can be said for dogs, but usually its with little unimportant things. Like tonight when I uncharacteristically tore apart a beloved member of my comfort circle. My dear Angry Bird toy is no more after I ripped it apart beyond repair. There was no good reason for it, but that’s not actually important to the story. My Comfort Circle

What is important is how long it took me to do such damage. Or maybe I should say how long it didn’t take. 45 seconds. That’s how long it took me to completely break down one of my favorite toys.

I think with people it’s frequently less than that. A lot less. Sure, it could also be longer, but regardless of how long it takes there is something I know for sure. It never takes as long for something, or someone, to completely break down as it does to put the pieces back together.

A mom goes to the grocery store for something silly she thinks she needs for a recipe on a cold, rainy night and never comes home to finish what she started. An unsuspecting person goes to a doctor for a checkup and leaves with the kind of news that no one ever wants to hear. A curious little boy burns his hands beyond repair investigating the inside of an open oven. These are things that can happen, and at a moment’s notice change absolutely everything. Not just for one person but for everyone that person knows.

Life can change in an instant, a day, or over time, but more often than not putting it back together again, moving on, starting over? These things can take time. And frequently they do. A lot of time.

But there’s a simple truth I’ve come to learn as an observer of people. You can’t rush it. Rushing the recovery process never helps the situation. Though it might not seem fair given the amount of time it takes (or doesn’t take) for life to change, I think it’s that way for a reason.

I think it’s that way because it’s worth it. It’s worth the time and effort and stress and emotional strife it takes to move on. Because it’s worth fixing. We can’t always control when life throws us a curve ball. We can control how we react to it. A life worth living is always a life worth fixing. No matter how long it takes.

 

 

Lease on Life November 21, 2014

I couldn’t believe my ears. Mom had the speaker on her phone today while she did an interview with a woman who owns a doggie daycare called “A Dog Sanctuary.”

She says its unique because she and her staff make an effort to actively engage the dogs in a variety of mental and physical games while they are there. She says its unique because its a place dogs go to be happy and dogs have a way of rubbing off on their people. She said this is her life’s passion.

That all sounded well and good. Drive safely

What shocked me was why she, at the age of 22, decided to quit her job as a post office worker and open a business. Just over a year ago, at the age of 21, she was the victim of an attempted homicide. The man snuck up on her from behind as she was leaving the dog park with her one-year-old German shorthair pointer, Millie. She was exceedingly happy because Millie had enjoyed the swim in the pond she’d been trying to encourage for months. Her glee turned to the most serious and breathtaking kind of fear when she saw the knife and roll of duct tape. As she fought for her life, she didn’t even feel the knife slice through her hand. All she said she could think about in those moments was how badly she wanted to live. And live she did.

A week later, the man went on to murder a woman of a similar age. Last month, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. But all of that is water under the bridge for this woman. She doesn’t even think about it anymore, she said, because she knows she is living her life’s mission. The mission she couldn’t spend one more day not doing. She’s more than a survivor. She is a giver of life to those around her.

All because she was given the kind of second chance that not everyone gets in life. A second chance I got (in a far less graphic and terrible way). I couldn’t even believe my ears as she told her story, seeming completely unphased by what happened to her a mere year ago. As surprising as that was to me, I realized there is a lesson to be learned from her passion. From her mission to share joy with the world. From her drive to live.

Second chances don’t come along every day. When yours comes, take it and hold on for dear life. Take it from me – you won’t regret it.