Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Sisterhood of the Traveling Dog September 10, 2014

I’ve never really known what it meant. Or what it takes. To be a sibling takes emotional effort that I am not unwilling to offer, but it is a role I just have never really been presented with an opportunity to properly honor.

Sure, I had my brothers before I lost them that day when I also lost my birth mom all of those years ago. But we didn’t really know brotherhood at that age. We were young, puppies, and we had no idea what such a thing really meant. I thought maybe I understood it when I lived at my first adoptive home with all of those other dogs and cats. But that wasn’t quite right either. Then something happened when dear baby Carter was born.Snuggles With Auntie Morgan

Not only did I inherit a puppy brother I’m still figuring out, but I learned a few things about what it means to be a sibling. It started the very first night dear Carter came home when mom and dad were completely and utterly overwhelmed. I think it probably happens to any and every parent that first night or two when they bring their new little person home. Shock. The reality of what it really means to be overtired. Confusion. And, at the heart of it all, love. For this little life and all the change it means for the family, as well as for life itself.

My people felt none of that love that first night. All they felt was complete and utter exhaustion. So when they called mom’s sister Morgan to the rescue, I was not surprised. I knew my abilities to help were limited and  I was frankly more than relieved upon her arrival. She stayed with Carter and I while mom and dad caught a half hour or two of sleep. She cuddled Carter and I cuddled her.

I was reminded of those moments tonight when mom was rocking Carter to sleep. She was stroking his hand in a way that seemed to make him relax, which I later learned is somewhat a trade secret of hers. It’s something she used to do for her baby sister way (way) back when to help her sleep. She would rub her silky smooth little hand way longer than necessary just to make sure she was really and truly asleep. She thought of this tonight as she did the same on Carter’s soft little hand.

It all made me think that maybe I know more than I thought I did about what it means to be a sibling. The emotional effort I thought I’d never really understood? Maybe I know it better than I thought I did. Because I know true and unconditional love. I know what that looks like. And I’m not going to lie. From the ground up, when that kind of love is applied to the sibling life, it all sounds pretty special to me.

 

Remembering The Before February 28, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 10:47 pm
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It seems like a given. Like one of those things that is simply understood. No words required. But sometimes I don’t think that’s enough. For the last year or so, our threesome (dad, mom and I) has been evolving to include baby Carter. First while mom was pregnant, and especially now that he’s here, he comes first.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Nor do I feel jealous of the attention. But I have noticed something – a change in how mom and dad interact with and treat each other. They’ve gone from simply being husband and wife to being parents. And let’s face it – that involves a whole other job description.Family Love

Not to mention how easy it is to get lost in the eat, wake, sleep cycle of a newborn. It’s easy to forget the before. The before when it was just mom and dad and their love for each other (and me, of course). The before when all they had was each other, in sickness and in health, ’til death does them part. All that has changed (for the better now), but that doesn’t negate what they had before.

So I was overjoyed tonight when they went on a date – their first since Carter was born almost two months ago. They left Carter and I in the kind and loving hands of a friend to go to their favorite restaurant for dinner. It was hardly an extravagance, but it didn’t need to be. It reminded them of the before and how much that still means in the now.

It all got me to thinking of how important it is to not get too caught up in routines and life’s diaper changes. How much it means to remember the loved ones who make it all possible. Moreover, the special chosen circles of trust that make life a better place to live. Because it seems like a given. And when there is so much going on around us, it might be simply understood. No words required. But that doesn’t mean actions aren’t necessary every now and then to show we still care. And all things that seem like a given began as just that – a gift.

 

Stupid Is As Stupid Does February 25, 2014

I used to think it was pretty cool to be a know-it-all. Worse than that, I thought I did know it all. That is, until I realized I didn’t. The older I get, the more I realize how much there really is to learn. In reality, I know nothing in the greater context of everything.

This came to mind tonight as the story I was going to share shaped into something completely different. The evening started off better than most, with lots of laughter and love. Mom and dad enjoyed dinner together, after which dad showed an above average interest in spending time with baby Carter. He rocked him and talked to him and played with him. Meanwhile, Carter cooed and smiled and seemed to be having the time of his life while mom and I sat by and watched the scene unfold. It was like something from a movie.

Us Against The WorldUntil it wasn’t. None of us will ever know why it happened, but Carter started crying. Mom and dad ran through all the usual suspects – he’s not hungry because he just ate, he’s not wet because we just changed him, he doesn’t have a fever and all four limbs are still well attached. So what could possibly be wrong? It was kind of a devastating turn for the worse but I was still kind of surprised by what happened next. (Especially when you consider the truth – this is normal baby behavior. Every now and then they cry. It happens. We’ve been over this).

Tension built and they turned on each other. Mom and dad got upset. With each other. Even though I know (and they know) it was completely unnecessary for them to do so. In reality, they were simply sharing in frustration and confusion and exhaustion and it all just caught up with them. But I realized something. Dad said something he’s said more than once before about not being good with babies. About not knowing what he’s doing. To which mom responded that she doesn’t know what she’s doing either.

I’m hardly a know-it-all, but in this situation all I wanted to do was raise my little doggie paw to correct them both. They may not know everything about parenting a newborn. But they’re doing great. It’s okay not to know what you’re doing sometimes. It’s okay to learn as you go. And (perhaps most importantly) it’s a blessing that they have each other to learn with. They can work through challenges together and celebrate success together. They can learn together. And they have.

They did it again tonight when they brought the argument to a quick and (fairly) painless close. Because it’s not always about knowing it all.  Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is admit you don’t know everything.

 

The New Normal January 31, 2014

This I did not expect. Or at least not to the extent to which it’s happened. Change. From the ground up, change has been the name of the game in the Schmidt household for the last month. One month ago today, my little person entered the world. Happy One Month!

This Boppy Thing is for me right?I thought I was ready. From the gadgets scattered all over the house (most of which I didn’t understand) to the stacks of baby books I helped mom page through, we were set. But I was wrong. What I wasn’t expecting was admittedly the most obvious of things. Change. To my days. To my nights. My life as I knew it has not been the same.

We canines are creatures of habit. We love our routines. Prior to baby Carter’s arrival, I had come quite accustomed to the everyday routine around here. That has all been thrown to the wayside for the last four weeks or so, and I can’t say I liked it at first.

But today I occurred to me. Dad asked if I wanted to go on a car ride, my first with my little person and my forever people. It was a short ride involving the thing my people call errands, but it meant the whole wide world to me that I was invited along to enjoy the occasion.

That’s when my heart and mind came together in the realization that it’s going to be okay. This is our new normal. We’ve settled into new habits and new routines. There are remnants of the time before that have melded seamlessly with all that has changed. Sleep is still tough to come by (for all of us), but most other things have hit a stride. And my people are happy (albeit overtired) so that means I am happy.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” American self-help writer suggests.

I’ve never been that big a fan of change. I wasn’t expecting it, wasn’t prepared for it, and now that it is happening, I can’t say I liked it at first. But one month ago today, my life changed forever. We may not be getting much sleep. And literally everything about our routine has been uprooted and updated. But this new normal looks pretty good from where I’m sitting. Change. From the ground up, it’s not so bad after all.

 

The Diaper Change Fiasco January 16, 2014

I thought for a second I was in a dream. But I definitely was not. What was happening was real. And it kind of freaked me out. Last night somewhere in the wee hours, dad picked me up out of bed, held me like a baby, and attempted to put me in something I’ve heard called a changing table.

“Dang, you’re heavy,” he half-stammered in his sleepy state. That’s when I figured it out. He thought I was Carter. He had mistaken all 20 pounds of terrier that I am for his child and was about to change my nonexistent diaper. I couldn’t have that (any more than I could wear such a diaper contraption), so I wiggled my way out of that situation right quick.Peace.

It wasn’t until morning that it all paid off for me. It happened as dad retold the story to mom, who miraculously managed to sleep through the whole escapade. Laughter. From the ground up, it rejuvenated our weary hearts this morning.

Because let’s face it. It’s rough right now. My people are (clearly) overtired. They aren’t sleeping. Their clock revolves around Carter, and my clock revolves around them. And it’s quite honestly a little frustrating since there really isn’t too much I can do to help with anything. And I know in reality it really wasn’t anything I did that caused the laughter. My warm little body was just in the right place at the right moment. I even thought for a second I was in a dream. But I definitely was not.

“Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen,” American author Carl Sandburg suggested. What happened this morning was real, mistaken venture that it was. I’m so glad I listened for the aftermath. Because sometimes it just helps to laugh. Out loud. At yourself. It helps to stop and listen for the healing wisdom the laughter brings. Even if you are mistaken for a newborn baby in the process.

**No dogs or babies were harmed in the making of this completely true story**

 

Lighting the Way January 12, 2014

It’s official. I think my people are losing their minds. Maybe it’s because of the lack of sleep. I can’t be sure. All I know is there is a new nighttime Sleep, Don't Weeproutine in the Schmidt household and I’m not sure what to make of it.

It actually starts during the day, with all kinds of loud noises, open windows and bright lights. Then at 8:30 sharp, they shut off all the lights and put baby Carter in a dark room away from any televisions or other noises. They speak to each other (and me) in hushed tones and I get scolded even more than usual for barking at animals on the television (which admittedly is one of my more unusual quirks).

Apparently it’s to do with the baby’s days and nights being flip flopped. Daytime to us is nighttime to him, so to attempt to get him on track with what my people refer to as a “normal” schedule. Tonight was the second swing at this new way of things, and I’m not sure how it will go.

Because the baby will probably do his own thing anyway. So to me it feels a bit like flipping a coin. And I found that frustrating at first because there’s really nothing I can do to help. Except there is. I don’t think my people are losing their minds. But I do think they need me now more than ever to remind them to seek out joy. From the ground up, it’s always there even when we lose our way.

 

Living in A Moment January 11, 2014

I’m not complaining. I want to be clear about that. But I’m not going to lie. While I am overwhelmed with joy for the major life change my people have embarked upon, it kind of frightens me a little. All right, I’ll be honest. It frightens me a lot.

ChallengeI knew it would happen eventually, but I didn’t expect it to happen this fast. Mom and dad have thrown caution to the wind. Forget the baby books. Put aside the message boards. Just as I knew would happen, Carter is writing a book of his own. And I can’t say my people seem to happy with the outcome.

When mom was pregnant, dad used to joke that he wished she could give birth to a toddler. Though it would be physically impossible, it seemed appealing then to be able to fast forward through the “tough” newborn stuff and get right to the talking, walking trouble that comes with little people who are about two people years old. That way at least they can tell us what they need, he said.

Meanwhile, any and every caring friend and family member concurs. Much of the advice and suggestions align with each other, but one has stood out to me. This too shall pass, but cherish these moments. He will only be little like this for a short time. They grow up so fast.

If dogs could talk I would echo these words. It hasn’t been easy, but as American hockey coach Herb Brooks suggested moments of challenge represent opportunities for success. “Great moments are born from great opportunities,” he said. Because let’s face it. Fast forward is no way to live.

 

The Life of A Newborn January 8, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 10:39 pm
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Poop. Feed. Sleep. Repeat. I know this is what people perceive to be the life of a dog, but I beg to differ. This is the life of a newborn. Baby Carter turned one week and one day old today and I’ve definitely noticed some changes to how we do things around here.

Screaming CarterA pattern has taken shape in the Schmidt home that revolves around this (albeit simple) regime. Poop. Feed. Sleep. Repeat. Sometimes it is like clock work, repeating every three or four hours. Other times it varies, usually picking up in frequency. This tends to happen between about 7 p.m. and 12 a.m., which makes much of anything I used to do with my people a secondary priority. It also makes blogging quite challenging because I require help from mom for that.

And whoever said this late night feeding thing is for the dogs didn’t know what they were talking about. It’s not for the dogs. And it’s not for the people either. Yet the four of us are in this together, and with each feeding we all stumble through the house to make sure Carter’s cycle is completed before we stumble back to bed.

It’s all a little monotonous, and last night I found myself giving in to the negativity fed by the repetitive cycle of sleep-related doom. It was 3 a.m. and we were all up. Carter was screaming (as we’ve all come to know more likely than not signals the poop portion of the routine) and mom and dad were struggling to change his diaper (another thing about babies I don’t think I will ever understand). I was sitting on the little rug in the nursery watching the action. My head was almost as heavy as my eyes. I knew I was slouching over and I didn’t care.

In that moment both my forever mom and dad noticed my posture. Oh Wiles, mom said, you’re right there with us in this aren’t you?

Poop. Feed. Sleep. Repeat. Indeed, I am right there with them through this. There isn’t much I can do to help with any of it. (Other than alert my people when there is poop in the diaper before the screaming starts). But mom was right. I am right there with them through this. It’s the least I can do.

 

An Open Apology to the Mail Man January 7, 2014

Apparently it’s called a mailbox. To me, it’s another post to pee on during my walks through the neighborhood. And it marks the entry to the driveway to my forever home. But at least from what I can tell this thing called a mailbox must be pretty special. It gets a special visitor almost every afternoon, who delivers a variety of things.

Love/hate is how I would describe my relationship with this visitor, who is also referred to by my people as the mail man. He usually visits when my people are away at that place called work, so I feel it is my duty to at least pay close attention (if not bark and/or whine) when he stops by. Observation has informed me he is not a hazard, but one can never be too careful.One Big Card

In addition, it seems he brings both good and bad news to my people. I don’t know what bills are, but he seems to bring a lot of those. We also get a fair share of junk mail and credit card offers. But today it was good news this man delivered. In multitude.

To say my people have been the slightest bit preoccupied lately is an understatement. There’s also been a bit of sleep deprivation. (Baby Carter wakes us several times a night, and together we wander our tired family around the house to accommodate his hunger). I would say it has probably been at least a week since they last checked the mailbox for good news or bad.

So it was a big old pile that (miraculously) only contained one bill and a bit of junk mail. The rest was joy. Holiday cards and baby congratulation cards and gifts made up the majority of the contents. Congratulations cards from great grandma Fran and great aunt Kandi (including one the size of baby Carter himself). Messages of love from great aunt Lesleigh. A Christmas card from our blog friend in Ohio. A special delivery from our blog friend in the United Kingdom. Within it, each contained a personal message of love and encouragement. And each card made mom cry because to her that wasn’t all they contained. Joy. From the ground up, it was had in today’s mail.

Maybe I owe the mail man an apology.

 

Joy: From the Inside Out December 21, 2013

I don’t even know what to say. That’s right, all. Something has rendered me speechless. It’s shocking, I know. Almost as shocking as thinking about the meaning of today.

On December 21, 2012 I felt inspired. It was snowing, and mom and I were happy together, and I didn’t know which came first, her laughter or my joy. It fell from the sky that day. And I remember the moment like it was yesterday. It was like a light bulb turned on in my heart and I knew what I had to do. I had to share this magic with whomever would take it. Joy. From the ground up, it became my 365-day mission to share it with the world.

Dog Blog with a CauseAnd that’s what I’ve done. Every day for a year, I have written about everything from existential philosophy to canine poop rituals. Because that’s life. It’s random and messy and beautiful and heart wrenching and hard and fabulous all at the same time. And I love every minute of it.

That doesn’t stop just because my one-year commitment has come to pass. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have grown, over the last year, to better understand myself, the world I live in, and how those two things interact and create the blessing that is life.

This knowledge has empowered me to take on a new mission that promises to be challenging in a whole new way. I want to continue sharing my unique perspective on joy. From the inside out, our understanding of joy in the Schmidt house is bound to change in the next year. Any day now, my little person is going to bring his or her joy into our world. If we thought we knew joy before, I think we have a whole other thing coming.

I know there will also be sleepless nights and dirty diapers and (gasp) a little less attention coming my way. And I may not be able to share these happenings quite as regularly as I have for the last year. But that’s life. From the ground up, the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the course of my blogging journey it is that this thing called life is certainly worth living to the fullest.

“Nobody gets to live life backward,” advice columnist Ann Landers suggested. “Look ahead, that is where your future lies.” The past has become my future and my future will soon become my present. From the inside out, joy is most definitely upon us. So today I turn the page. I start a new chapter. And I’m not going to lie – it’s one I can’t wait to read either.