Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

All Over Again December 29, 2014

Everything about it felt a bit like deja vu to me. There was cooking and dancing and silliness and it all reminded me of something I’ve seen dozens of times before. It’s just been a while.

For some time now mom does the cooking. Or dad. But it rarely happens that they cook together like they did tonight. It was nothing fancy either. Just a pretty standard sampling of spaghetti with semi-homemade meat sauce, peas and garlic bread. The music in the background was a throwback to a few years ago too, including some old favorites by “Coldplay.” As they cooked, dear baby Carter happily feasted on a pear. And I watched, as I do, as joy from the ground up came to life in my kitchen.Good Life

This is not to say there is anything wrong with the present. There is a lot to celebrate about even the relatively mundane things about daily life in my forever home. But sometimes there’s nothing like a glimpse of the past to bring the present into focus.

Paying homage to where we came from can have that effect, I’ve found. Though anyone’s past might be marred with negatives, finding the positives to embrace can make all the difference in living joy in your daily life. There’s plenty about my past I could let haunt me, but I choose to celebrate the happy things instead. Family Time Please

Like the feeling of deja vu I had today. It was in moment when mom and dad danced around the kitchen without even meaning to as they teamed up to make the perfectly seasoned pasta sauce. It was in the moment when One Republic’s “Good Life” came on the music player and they reminisced about the time mom caught dad swinging Carter around the living room to the lyrics a few months ago. It was in the kiss they thought no one saw.

“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The past is not a place I’d like to live, but it certainly serves a purpose as far as I’m concerned. Because really it’s what we do with it that matters.

 

Just Keep Chugging November 9, 2014

All aboard! I hear that a lot in my forever home these days as children’s television frequently features choo choo trains as my forever mom calls them. There’s even this one channel I’ve taken to watching with dear baby Carter occasionally that features a choo choo train song every couple of hours. It encourages the little people watching to get up and dance to the music. Though I’m not sure my little person understands those words, he’s always had a thing for music.

Dance, dance dance, mom will say, and he will jiggle and wiggle his little self all over the place. When he does it is honestly like the world stops and there is nothing but the silliness unfolding in the living room. It’s especially entertaining when he hears certain songs, like what they feature on the choo choo boogie or whatever its called.

Fearsome Foursome

Car ride to the dog park? Joy.

Well all of that became very real for Carter today as he journeyed with mom and dad to something called a train show. I don’t know much about these things, but I can only assume two things. There were trains. And there was dancing at the sight and sound of them.

It all got me to thinking about my music. About my trains in life, if you will. We all have things that make us tick, that keep us going, or that fill us with such exuberance that we can’t help but dance for joy. For me, its pretty simple. Time at the dog park, or on a car ride, or in my backyard paradise tend to do the trick. Time with my beloved family? Well, that’s a given. But laughter? Humor itself coming alive like it does when Carter does his silly little jig? That might be one of the most precious jewels of joy I’ve come across in life.

“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers,” suggested American comedian Bill Cosby. “And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”

Now it’s my turn to say the words. All aboard! I think its due time (assuming you haven’t already done so recently) to reevaluate our joys in life. What are the things that keep us chugging along through the challenges? Sometimes they might not seem that important, but that is most likely when they’re most important. We need to identify these things and embrace them for all they’re worth, because I believe we have them for a reason. We have these things not just to survive, but to live.

 

The Good Life April 24, 2014

I think it’s magic. To me there is really no other logical explanation. I’ve seen it happen in both my own life and the lives of others on occasions to frequent to count. Music. From the ground up, it touches the soul in a way words alone cannot.

I was reminded of this today when I heard a song by One Republic called “Good Life.” It’s all about the band’s real experiences travelling around the world and their ultimate realization of the good life. And it’s one of those songs that always gets my paws bouncing. It puts listeners into their own good life, just in listening to it. Listen to me

Which was kind of nice today. Because I’ll be honest. (Not that I’m not always honest, but you know what I mean). Today was not a good day. It was filled with tears and screams and everything negative one could possibly associate with time spent with a baby. Dear little Carter was in rare form today, and the implication was not a good one. Because when he’s that unhappy, mom is unhappy.

And here’s the thing – I know it is because dear little Carter is her baby and she wants him to be okay so it hurts her to see him so unhappy for so long. We are talking two hours of tears long. But she can’t. She can’t fix it. Sometimes there are just things you can’t fix. I think that’s what I learned today.

Because even I couldn’t fix the situation. This is not for lack of trying, mind you. Oh no. I pulled out the big guns. The more Carter screamed, the more mom cried, and the more I attempted to intervene. Attempted is the key word in the story, as I failed to evoke anything but frustration from my beloved forever mom.

Maybe it was because I was even more relentless with my positivity than Carter was with his screaming. It puzzled me at first, since it has always worked in the past. I did this thing where I paw at mom’s leg and sit and stare at her, and paw and stare, and paw and stare, and even jump at her – it did nothing but make matters worse. She just seemed more upset.

Then in happened. Magic. The song came on the radio and somehow the spirits lifted. Joy. From the ground up, it took the form of music today. And (even though it was something other than me causing it) I’m okay with that. Because today I was reminded of a pretty important lesson. The good life isn’t always the easy one. It’s the real one.

Oh, this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/onerepublic/good-life-lyrics/#Fdd7HQaTuoUmQbJr.99

 

Come Away With Me October 5, 2013

I’m no Mozart or Picasso, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a thing of beauty.

I see art when I step out the back door into one of my favorite places. Some would call it a backyard. I call it paradise. There are squirrels to chase, trees to lounge under, and (perhaps best of all) it’s all mine.

And it doesn’t matter where I am in the house – it is music to my ears when my treat jar gets opened. That, or a treat bag, or the bag with my rawhides in it. Or the door where my people keep my leash. Forget Canon in D. I’ll take the sound that signifies impending adventure over that piano music any day.Come Away With Me

Until today. Today music and art combined into it’s own fabulous kind of symphony I will forever hold dear to my little doggie heart.

It began as it usually does. “Wiley up,” mom said before she picked me up for a dance around the kitchen. It was the first time we’ve done this since she’s been pregnant and I didn’t realize I kind of missed it. Her and I dancing like ninnies to Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me.” I know we looked absolutely ridiculous and I didn’t care.

So you can imagine my surprise at what happened next. Dad caught us. And he didn’t hesitate. Instead he came away with us. And I’m sure we looked even more silly-the three of us clumsily clamoring around in the small space. But none of it mattered because in that moment we were away together in a happy place. I didn’t think things could get any better (especially within only 3 minutes and 18 seconds of the song), but they did.

Beauty. It’s all around us in various forms. I see it in all kinds of places. I hear it in all sorts of ways. And today it took me away. Just as Norah sang the words “come away with me and I’ll never stop loving you,” mom interjected to point out the baby could hear the music. “And baby is dancing right now too,” she said.

So there we were – the four of us. My forever family. As art and music collided in its harmonious symphony, I mentally confirmed what I already knew to be truth. I would come away with them anywhere.

 

Feeling Freebird Freedom May 3, 2013

Sometimes I wonder about this phrase I’ve heard people say that it isn’t too good to be true, it’s too good to be free. It seems a bit obvious to me as I understand that we generally get what we pay for both literally and figuratively speaking. But the more I thought about it, I can’t say I appreciate the negative connotation in either piece of commentary.

I will admit: even the optimist in me sometimes contemplates the impossible. The glass half empty, if you will. Then I remember the words scrawled on a banner above the band that played “Freebird” at the funeral of Mitch Baylor in Elizabethtown: If it wasn’t this, it would be something else.

I would bet the average person’s mind would flip toward the negative when they think about that phrase, as well as the earlier thoughts on the reality of the cost of things. But what if we challenged our brains to see even the negative implications of these words on through the lenses of a more positive outlook?

Freedom itself certainly isn’t cheap. I thank my lucky stars for living in a country where we are blessed by the heroes of our past who have fought to protect the freedom of all of the people in my life. A lot of animals know a thing or two about what life looks like without freedom and let me tell you: I’d take this life over that one any day. In respect to freedom, we sure have gotten what was paid for it, especially in our freedom to express our thoughts, beliefs and values.

It’s no secret that I am a lover of music and today as I have gratitude for all that isn’t free in life, I find myself turning to the classic rock anthem “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The song makes a meaningful appearance in a favorite movie of mine “Elizabethtown,” as a ballroom of people celebrate the life of the recently deceased father figure Mitch Baylor.

“If I leave here tomorrow Would you still remember me? For I must be traveling on, now, ‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see. But, if I stayed here with you, girl, Things just couldn’t be the same,” the band roars. “I’m as free as a bird now, And this bird you can not change. Oh… oh… oh… oh… oh… And the bird you cannot change. And this bird you cannot change. Lord knows I can’t change.”

Holding true to the themes of the movie, the lyrics of the song radiate through the ballroom as the band plays under a banner reading “if it wasn’t this, it would be something else.” Again, it would be way too easy to view this thought through the lenses of negativity, and I refuse to do that today.

Instead, I hold up my freedom to express my beliefs, and (I’m not going to lie), doing so makes me feel free as a bird. Some might think me ignorant for shining some positive sunlight on thoughts others may view negatively, but what can I say? This bird you cannot change.

 

A Saturday Soundtrack February 23, 2013

Today my neurotic’s notebook takes a page from American journalist Mignon McLaughlin, who said “a sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles.” I’ve written about the joy that happens in my home on Saturdays, so I thought I would set it to a soundtrack for anyone interested in a lighthearted salute to today’s daily prompt.

If I were to set a Saturday in the Schmidt household to a soundtrack, I suppose it would play like this.

(Disclaimer: These have all inspired previous (and future) blog posts, so I apologize in advance for any repetition).Dancing to Life's Soundtrack

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkkFYHXlX-c
Track One: Tell Me A Story, Phillip Phillips.
Dear Phillip Phillips. A lyrical hero of mine, he inspires me with his words frequently. This is one of my favorites from his album “Man on The Moon.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfsS3pIDBfw
Track Two: Hands, Jewel
Human hands are capable of such bad things. I embrace only the good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVOu47ib9s8
Track Three: Answer, Sarah McLaughlin
This one gets me every time. https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/my-answer-i-sleep-smiling/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2SfmcNg8js
Track Four: I Hope You Dance, LeAnn Womack
I love to dance. Did you know that about me?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84Ns6ouwO1g
Track Five: Peggy Sang the Blues, Frank Turner
A recent favorite, this song recently inspired a blog entry about my perspective that all forward motion counts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6ZWlDks0nQ
Track Six: Paradise, Coldplay
Forget hindsight. I prefer paradise.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT2fM3-seUE
Track Seven: Life In Slow Motion, David Gray.
A reminder to stop and appreciate life’s special moments. https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/life-in-slow-motion/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nm-1xvWibt0
Track Eight: Isn’t It Ironic? Alanis Morissette
I had to. 🙂 https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/isnt-it-ironic-a-pause-amidst-lifes-symphony/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw14mwAp5oM
Track Nine: Hard Times, EastMountainSouth
Hard times come again no more. Simple as that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0aauXOx120
Track Ten: Free Bird, Lynyrd Skynyrd
As seen in one of my favorite movies, Elizabethtown

Please note: I do not own rights to any of these videos. They were all shared from YouTube.

 

Isn’t it ironic? A Pause Amidst Life’s Symphony January 17, 2013

Irony is one of those words that can often be considered most influential in the eye of the beholder. Definitions vary, but from what I can tell perspective weighs heavily upon one’s perception of what Merriam-Webster refers to as “the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning.” Sounds pretty confusing to me. My simplified perspective includes the people in my life through the lenses of my appreciation for literature, music and artistic expression.

From the ground up, I couldn’t help but see irony in life’s little messages of today. It was the kind of day one wishes could be lived in reverse. French poet Anatole France knew a thing or two about this. “Irony is the gaiety of reflection and the joy of wisdom,” he said. Alas, hindsight is 20/20, so instead of dreaming the impossible, I will reflect on the messages.

It was a pretty normal day for me…mom and dad headed off to their respective workplaces, followed closely by my morning nap, mom’s lunchtime visit, my afternoon nap, and then mom and dad came home. Mom had another one of “those” days at work. Over dinner, I listened intently as she explained the stress of the day to dad. I don’t understand much of what she does at this work place, but whatever it is sounds fast-paced and challenging.

“Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you when you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right,” Alanis Morissette croons in her 90s hit “Ironic.” “And life has a funny way of helping you out when you think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up in your face.”

Thank you, Alanis, for putting my words to music all those years ago. Today’s Simple Abundance reading encourages us to pause to find harmony within our day, understanding that the integration of simplicity, order and gratitude in our lives will create a magical symphony of comfort and joy. “With harmony as your guide, trust that your every day moments will soon begin to resonate in a rhapsody of fulfillment,” Breathnach writes.

So I find a bit of irony in today’s daily prompt, which challenges me to “honestly evaluate the way you respond to crisis situations. Are you happy with the way you react?” http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/daily-prompt-in-a-crisis/

Is anyone? Speaking for myself, it certainly isn’t easy for me to pause and soak in the warm rays of the sun instead of running after that squirrel in the backyard. When faced with too many stimuli, I have a tough time concentrating on life’s simplest blessings. Chaos is not my friend, and I don’t think it’s any good for my mom either. I know I can’t relive today, but I can at least take France’s advice and find some wisdom in the irony.

Isn’t it ironic that sometimes exactly what is best for us is sometimes the most challenging task of all?