Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

But To Live January 20, 2015

Sometimes it happens for no good reason at all. Nothing in particular went wrong. The day itself can be completely average. As was the day before it. And yet something about the time passing seems slower moving than when I get stuck in the muddy snow-slush substance that accumulates in my backyard paradise as the formerly beautiful snow diamonds melts. (That also may have happened today.)

My conviction to live in the moment is in direct conflict with the words, yet I found myself agreeing when my dear forever mom said them today. “I can’t believe it’s only Tuesday,” she said to dad over dinner. For no good reason, the week does indeed seem to be dragging in a way even I have to admit. Feeling Sleepy

Upon further reflection, I don’t suppose it’s terrible to consider the possibility that time can occasionally drag. I don’t suppose it is actually that much different than pausing to realize how quickly time has been flying by. Time, and the living of it, has a mind of its own sometimes.

I think my problem is when either kind of time prompts a desire or longing for time to change somehow. For it to speed up or slow down. Either is a crime against the present, which (at least in my humble doggie opinion) is meant to be treasured. In a case like today, I felt mom’s words. I, too, couldn’t believe it’s only Tuesday. And, as a result, I found myself wishing it were Wednesday. Or Thursday. Because that means my favorite time of the week (the weekend, obviously) was closer.

Therein lies the problem. I was wishing time away instead of appreciating that this week it seems to have slowed down before our very eyes.

Sometimes it happens for no good reason at all. Or so I thought. Today I realized maybe when time slows down, it’s happening for a reason. Maybe it is to remind us to slow down. Maybe it is to remind us to cherish the moments, instead of wish them away. Maybe it is to remind us not just to be, but to live.

 

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 Semi-Charmed Life July 9, 2014

I know it probably seems pretty obvious to some people. But I think there is this common misconception about the expression of feelings that too frequently plagues relationships. I don’t think the nature of the relationship matters. Mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, lifelong friends. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well you think you know someone because ultimately you don’t know them as well as you know yourself. Hammock

I think that’s why it’s one of those things that too frequently gets lost in the shuffle. Yet I see it happen all the time. A message that might seem small, insignificant or redundant just sometimes needs to be received. You’re beautiful. I love you. I’m proud of you. Thank you. From the ground up, these are among the things I think need to be said (and meant) much more frequently than they are. Great job on that. I’m happy. You are a great dad/mom/wife/sister/brother/friend. I appreciate that you are in my life. Sometimes I think a person doesn’t even know how much he or she needs to receive these messages until it actually happens.

Take today, for instance. For the most part, it was like any other day since dear baby Carter was born. Mom and dad followed the same routine. Carter ate, played, napped and ate again. Mom wrote. Dad worked. But there was this moment, this one beautiful moment as mom refilled the bird feeders and dad watered the garden when it happened. They both stopped at the same time. They both paused. Joy. From the ground up, it happened in that moment, not just because they paused. Joy came to life in that moment because they said it out loud.

“I’m so happy,” mom said.

“Me too,” dad replied.

Then they smiled and both resumed their aforementioned duties in our backyard paradise.

I know it was probably the shortest conversation either of them had today, but I can promise you it was much more important than anything else that happened throughout the day. That’s the thing when something seems obvious – sometimes that makes it a lot easier to let slip through the cracks. But life is not a given. Moments are fleeting. And joy is in life’s little reminders.

 

Watching the Clouds June 8, 2014

It’s ugly. And scary looking. And (perhaps worst of all) it doesn’t look like it’s getting much better. But today (in a moment of selfish weakness) I realized I am thankful for it. My dear forever dad injured his leg very badly playing softball the other night. When I say bad, I mean bad.

Off We Go

Off We Go

His entire shin is torn brutally torn apart from sliding into third base. The worst part about it? He was out anyway. Nonetheless, it’s there. And I can tell he’s trying to be strong about it, but it hurts.  A lot.

So today my people did something they haven’t done in a very long time. They stayed home for no other reason than to rest. Not because they were sick. And dad will tell you he could have handled doing any number of things regardless of the big red gash that is currently in the process of healing on his leg. But they didn’t. Instead they all stayed home, with me, all day long. Don’t tell them I told you, but they even napped a bit while Carter did at one point.

And I loved it. Not only because (mostly by default) they spent the day with me. Or because they put aside the list of things they could have done. But because sometimes you really do need to pause like they did today to reboot and recharge your batteries.

It’s been tough for me to see them both run themselves ragged keeping up with everything since dear baby Carter came home. There are some days they both pass out the second their heads hit the pillow. Then there are days like today.

“Rest is not idleness,” suggested British statesman John Lubbock, “and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

It wasn’t so ugly. And I’m not ashamed to say I am grateful for dad’s injury. Because today it forced my people to slow down and watch the clouds. No such thing is a waste of time to me.

 

On Precious Moments April 12, 2014

I often wonder what it would be like if life had a remote control. If we could stop and pause and fast forward and rewind segments like I see my people do when something is particularly funny or if they need to leave the room for a few minutes. What happens when something is particularly funny in life? There’s not really a way to duplicate it again because you can’t rewind. And when times get rough? You can’t fast forward.

But I do think we have within us the capability to pause the present from time to time. To stop and appreciate a precious moment (or moments) in time that brings life into focus. I’ve heard mom say this is what the better part of the first three months of Carter’s life were like for her. In a way, she says she felt like she was in a time warp. Like somehow the world outside didn’t exist and it was only our little family enjoying each other in those (albeit) trying times. Rolling Over

I think you emerge from something like that – from a time warp, or pause in the rat race of life – a completely different person. Whether you pause for a second or for three months doesn’t matter. You see things differently. Feel things differently. Live differently.

Something I’ve found observing my little family since my beloved little person came home is that no one wants to miss anything. And (while at times) this is not always the best attribute, I do feel that it has within it a level of context that should not be misunderstood. Every moment is precious.

Baby Carter rolled over a bunch today. It didn’t seem like that big a deal to me, as I roll over all the time. But my people stopped cold – paused – and relished in what is apparently some sort of developmental milestone in a little person’s life. It was such a little thing that meant so much.

It made me think about the little moments that happen in a person’s life that make a difference. Not just for the person who decides to hit the pause button, but for whoever else happens to be around when it happens. It took me back to that fateful day when the snow fell from heaven and mom and I went outside and I didn’t know what came first – her laughter or my wagging tail.

That’s when I realized we actually have the only remote control button we really need. We have within ourselves the ability to pause to be thankful for the present that is the present. Who needs rewind and fast forward when you have the present?

 

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.

 

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 Time Wings October 27, 2013

I don’t think I’d call myself a morning doggie. Like many of my canine comrades, I like my sleep. Though I prefer to call my daytime naps daydreams, let’s be honest. I’m sleeping. I sleep a lot.

Not only that, but I have this whole sleepy morning routine. I snuggle my way into what I guess people call a spooning situation with either mom or dad until it’s time for them to wake up. Then I keep them company while they get ready to go to that place called work. I have a special spot in the bathroom (on the rug I’m certain they place on the tile especially for me) where I watch the chaos unfold.

JoyThen I usually sneak back on the bed and snuggle into the pillows until it’s time for them to leave. At that point, I move to my doggie bed in the kitchen where I get a treat. I think the treat is meant to neutralize my disappointment at their leaving, but obviously it’s just a treat. It’s not my people. So I daydream my mornings away where (in my mind at least) I’m running around the dog park or exploring new places with my people.

All of this takes a holiday on weekends. And while I am inexplicably motivated by routine, this is one routine I don’t mind veering away from. Because I wouldn’t say I’m a morning doggie, but there is one kind of morning I can’t get enough of. Weekend mornings are my favorite. Every weekend is different, and not all mornings are the same, but there is something that seems to happen regardless. Time stands still. For just a few moments, the outside world ceases to exist. We three (soon to be four) musketeers embrace the time together.

It doesn’t have to be in the morning. Or on the weekends. But I think it’s so important to take these moments every now and then to pause to embrace those you love. “Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs to slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings,” wrote French romanticist Victor Hugo.

I wouldn’t say I’m a morning doggie. But there is something about mornings I look forward to each day. Those precious moments, no matter how fleeting, are the wings with which we fly.

 

A Moment’s Paws January 23, 2013

Sometimes life hands us lemons. Truth slaps us in the face. Reality checks in to say hello. And the result isn’t always pretty.Paws for Happy Thoughts

Momma said there would be days like this. Days when pressing pause on a remote with a jammed fast-forward button seems impossible. And yet, these are days when perhaps a moment’s paws (all right, we all know I really mean pause) could be the secret ingredient we need to make lemonade out of life’s lemons.

“Before we can change anything in our life we have to recognize that this is the way it’s meant to be right now,” Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. Accepting the present is one of the most important steps toward enjoying our future.

“Life is getting shorter, not longer, so we should live our bliss,” actress Drew Barrymore commented on today’s episode of The Chew. (Yes, I watch The Chew, and all the other food shows my mom and dad enjoy. What’s not to love about watching all kinds of human food goodness flashing before me?)

Drew’s thought got me to thinking about the role the present plays in our lives. I don’t think its a coincidence that present (as in the current time) is literally spelled the same as present (as in a gift). To me, the present is a gift, and I don’t intend to waste it.

I was reminded of this during my bi-monthly trip to Paws ‘R Us today. My groomer, Mary, (as well as her resident shop crew of canine pals) were all as happy to see me as always. After I was all cleaned up, I was enjoying some of my usual post-grooming play time with my Beagle mix pal Gus when BAM! It was like someone hit the pause button and my life flashed before my eyes.

Peter, a pit bull/lab mix, nipped at me and had a thing or two to growl to Mary when she interceded. In that instant, I relived my dark date with destiny at the dog park a few months ago. My vet’s words to my mom about “how lucky” I was to survive that pit bull attack seemed to echo off the walls.

The moment passed, and order was restored (no humans or animals were hurt during the inspiration for this blog), but I got to thinking about the role reality plays in our lives. I’ve said before that I’m a believer that life’s experiences shape who we are. Soren Kierkegaard, who is thought of as one of the founders of this existential outlook, once said “life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”

Today was not a problem. Today was actually a pretty great day. I got to spend time with my pals at the groomer, I got a pretty nice looking haircut (if I do say so myself), and I enjoyed a longer than usual amount of playtime with mom, dad, and Mrs. Prickles tonight.

The Haircut (What do you think?)

What was it that pulled me from the past back into acceptance of reality? Sometimes a moment’s paws is in itself the answer to life’s little reality checks.

 

Silently Speaking: Life’s Little Reminders January 3, 2013

I’m a glass-half-full kind of dog. I wake up each day and make a heartfelt commitment to see the good in people, places and things. But even our best intentions get challenged. For me, a constant challenge to my outlook on life is silence. I hate not being able to talk. Perhaps that’s why I find such comfort in writing down my thoughts…because the silence drives me bonkers.Smiling for Silence

What I find most ironically disturbing about silence is how it can be more powerful than words. As a lover of words, I can’t help but wonder why is it that silence speaks so loudly?

I take the challenge. I am going to find something good to say about silence. Let us welcome Sir Francis Bacon to the conversation. Talk about finding the good in people. The English philosopher wore many hats, including one of disgrace following his political career. Yet somehow, he remains thought of as the creator of empiricism and respected for his influence on philosophy and science.

“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom,” he once said. Well, I like sleep. And I love wisdom. In fact, I think my passion for wisdom got me in some trouble recently.

I noticed today that I have been one day ahead of myself in my journey with Simple Abundance. Clearly the problem is not my obvious enthusiasm for this journey of my mine. But that got me to thinking about life’s little reminders to hit the pause button from time to time. To be still in this super-sized, action-packed, fast-forward world. To respect the silence.

And we’re really missing out. Its been my experience that (even though silence is not my favorite thing) sometimes the stillness speaks to us in ways no words can interrupt. Southern novelist Mark Twain knew a thing or two about this. “The right word may be effective,” he said, “but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” So today I pause my Simple Abundance experience and (in doing so) find something good to say about silence.