Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Best of Friends February 7, 2015

I may be a bit biased in saying so, and it might not be that popular an opinion. But for the most part I think people friendships are a bit overrated. There, I said it. Now let me explain.

I’ve always been a believer in a family favorite quote to “love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe.” Life has taught me these things. And as a canine, I feel like we are born with an innate desire to do things that have earned us that famous title of man’s best friendThrowback to my first few days at my forever home

We are loyal. We love unconditionally. And we always listen quietly with a completely open heart. If we are lucky enough to be welcomed into a forever home, those people become our world. It’s that simple.

Maybe that’s the problem I’ve found so frequently with interpersonal relationships I observe. They’re never simple.

They’re messy and complicated and sometimes people aren’t loyal. Sometimes people don’t love unconditionally. Sometimes people would much rather be heard than listen. Therein lies the fundamentally simple yet surprisingly complex problem that is human emotion in friendships.

Yet that is also what I’ve found makes them so special. Every relationship is unique, with its own story of origin and development. And it seems these imperfections are also what breathes life into friendships in the first place.

Today mom celebrated friendship. She had lunch with a couple of her closest friends, a rare occurrence since she and dad brought home dear baby Carter all those months ago. I could tell it brought her joy, not only from how happy she seemed when she made it home, but from how much I know she looked forward to it beforehand.

Something about time with good friends can do that. Just as I know sometimes things don’t always go as planned and feelings get hurt and things get complicated, friendship can rejuvenate the soul like few other things can.

It doesn’t change my biased and admittedly unpopular opinion that, for the most part, interpersonal friendships are overrated. Because in my heart I know I love my people more than any of their people friends do. But I also know the joy that warms my heart when they are happy. I know because they’re my best friends. It’s as simple as that.

 

 

Things That Happen at Dusk July 16, 2014

I’ve gotten pretty used to the nighttime routine around here. Dinner, play, nap, play eat, sleep. Things have progressed slightly from where they were a few months ago, for which I am appreciative. Mom, dad and dear baby Carter spend a little more family time together than they used to thanks mostly to the six-month landmark that is solid foods.

Nonetheless, something happened today that departed from routine. And I’m not going to lie. I loved it. Moments after Carter went to bed, mom spontaneously decided she was going to take me for a quick walk around the neighborhood. This might not sound like much to the average canine, but to me it meant the world.

I can’t remember the last time I was out and about sans baby and carefree. While I realize this sounds like a complaint, I truly and sincerely digress. It’s not about that. It’s about things that happen at dusk and my love and appreciation for them.

Be it a random walk around the neighborhood, observing Carter’s bedtime routine, or watching the moving picture window known by people as the TV, it doesn’t really matter. I see stars in all of these things because these things spark happiness in the people around me.

Today, my stars multiplied because I felt like I was out living large with a chapter of my past. In what some might call the “good ole days,” mom and I adventured through the neighborhood (and sometimes even the dog park) on a daily basis. Obviously it has been some time since that has been the norm, but that doesn’t remove the importance of a thing like tonight from my heart.

If nothing else, it increases it. Because I’ve gotten quite used to the nighttime routine around here. It has departed (a bit) from the temporary eat, sleep, poop routine that was the norm a few months ago. And while that change has been welcomed, something else is welcomed along with it. While still increasingly important, routine needs to be broken every now and then. And when such a thing involves a journey to the past to which I felt like paying tribute, all is well in my little doggie world. So I say long live tradition and all it means for change.

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Just A Day June 26, 2014

 

It began and ended with Carter. Today was one of those days you lock away and hold onto for when the sun doesn’t come out. Because today, the sun shined brightly on the Schmidt family, both figuratively and literally.

It was a beautiful day in Wisconsin – not too hot, not too cold – which is a welcome change from a frequent run of dreary or foggy or rainy days we’ve had. I’ve noticed this kind of weather has a way of changing people, usually for the better. It inspires people to get out. To exercise. To live.

The same could be said of the Schmidt household today. It started with this, Carter doing what he does best lately, otherwise known as taking over anything and everything involving technology. From television remotes, to phones to computers, he is already taking over the world one gadget at a time. Master of the computer

Then this happened. We sat together, calmly and collected. This doesn’t happen often as I have become a bit fearful of his strong grasp and shrill sounds. But today it happened and it warmed my heart.

ChillingA good deal of time passed while mom was away at that place called work. But when she returned and Carter was napping, I got a glimpse into a past life I had. One where it was just mom and I (and dad, of course) and we had all the time in the world to do things like snuggle in her hammock. Otherwise known as a happy place of hers, it had become a favorite place of mine before she opted not to tempt fate climbing in and out of it while pregnant. Well, today I remembered those days, as we snuggled together while she read a book and sipped iced tea.

Hammock time               Hammock time

The only excuse I have for what happened next was the fly that was in my territory inside my forever home. No fly (or any In Hidingother small creature of its kind) should be allowed to roam within the walls of my territory as long as I have something to say (er, I mean woof) about it. But ever since I conquered a fly by eating it last year, I can’t seem to approach them the same way. So I will admit it. I hid.

I’m not sure why I chose Carter’s changing table as the best of all possible hiding places in the house, but that’s neither here nor there. Because it started and ended with Carter. Beginning to end, he is becoming more and more of a meaningful character in my life. And I love him for it because today was not that much unlike other days around here. Today was filled with joy and happiness. Today was filled with life.

 

Get Rich Quick November 29, 2013

Shopping isn’t for me. I’ve tried it a few times when mom was kind enough to let me accompany her to dog-friendly stores and farmer’s markets and pet fairs. While I very much enjoyed the company (and the attention I inevitably draw at these sorts of places), the actual concept of shopping doesn’t trip my proverbial trigger.

I enjoy new toys and treats and fresh bags of dog food as much as the next canine. But the actual process of hunting for it? Not so much. I get far too distracted by the people. So it sounds like I would have been very distracted today, on what my people call Black Friday. I’ve never cared much for black (also known as the color of darkness, sadness and death) and I can’t say I care much for this day either.

Talking MoneyYesterday people all over the country celebrated. They counted their blessings. They cherished time with their loved ones. Then as early as last night, all of that was abandoned for shopping. It doesn’t make any sense to me that people go out and spend so much money on things (that really are just things) so soon after celebrating what they already have. Especially when those little green bills known as money have the power to make people so blue.

This is why I chose to invest differently. Not in things, but in people. My biggest fears were realized in a doggie nightmare I had last night when suddenly, for no rational reason, my people were gone. It was just me, back in a cage, somewhere I didn’t recognize. No other cages surrounded me. I was completely alone. Thank heavens mom woke me up from that particular nightmare. Reality never looked so beautiful.

I know I have it pretty good. I am blessed, as my mom would say. But I know why I’m so rich with blessings – my fortune is not in those little green bills or in the Christmas presents that (at the very least) do seem to bring as much joy to the giver as the receiver. No sir. My fortune is in the people who make my life special. You can go shopping for a lot of things, but you can’t shop for those people. For friends. Or family. These are the true riches in my little doggie life.

 

Crazy Stupid Love November 20, 2013

Light of foot is not a phrase I would use to explain us canines. Between chasing and galloping and jumping and pawing at various stimuli, we aren’t that great at sneaking up on anything. Other than enabling us to do these things, our paws aren’t good for much. We can’t eat with them. We lack the opposable thumbs required to do things that hands are capable of.

And sometimes it drives me crazy. I’m not one to complain about things, but when there is an itch behind my ear that I can’t scratch I find myself longing for the hands I lack. I try with all my might sometimes to get at it, but I just can’t reach. Or my nails are to long. Or too short. All of these things are ultimately out of my control. And it’s exhausting.

But I realized something today. There I was, scratching away, and it happened. Mom interceded and the next thing you know, the itch was gone. She simply used her hands to scratch around the vicinity I was focusing on and everything was suddenly all was right with my world again. I felt overcome with crazy stupid love for my mom, not just because I wasn’t itchy anymore but because she loved me enough to help me in my time of need.Just a little closer

In that moment I was reminded that everyone feels this way sometimes. With that goal that’s just out of reach. With that deadline that’s impossible to meet. Or maybe in that relationship that doesn’t quite fit. It can drive a person crazy feeling simultaneously so close and so far away from something.

But that’s why we have people around us to help us in our times of need. To be our support system when that relationship doesn’t go as we wish it had. Or to help us finish that project on deadline. And (perhaps most importantly) to keep us motivated.

“Love is friendship that has caught fire,” suggested American newspaper columnist Ann Landers. “It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.”

Let’s face it. Nobody’s perfect. And, in the case of us canines, one of our weaknesses is a set of four fairly useless paws. So it’s a good thing I’m blessed with people who help me through. I have loyalty and love and understanding. I have friendship caught on fire. That’s nothing I’d want to catch with my paws anyway. I’d much rather catch all of that with my heart.

 

A Day of You October 16, 2013

I’ve got news for you. There’s never enough time in a day. I know, I know, that is brand new information right?

I’ve seen it happen all too frequently with my forever people. From work to laundry to grocery shopping to house cleaning, the to-do list sometimes outgrows the day. And with the little person on the way I know the list is about to double. Or triple.

Which is why I would like to add a new permanent item to their to-do list. Make time for you today, it would say. I know it probably sounds silly, but I don’t care. It’s important.Lazy Is Not the Enemy

This became crystal clear to me the other day when mom did not go to that place called work. Instead, she stayed home with me and enjoyed a lazy morning before leaving for a while to get something she called a massage. (Apparently its a lot like the pets I get during my love fests with my people). When she came home about two hours later, she was a new person. A sleepy new person, but a new version of herself nonetheless.

And the sleep that has been evading her so frequently lately? It did not evade her that day. She slept more soundly for three straight hours than she has in months. (I would know since I’m her cuddle buddy). It truly was a day of her for her, and it made me happy to see her so relaxed.

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time,” American psychiatrist M. Scott Peck observed. “Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”

Time is a priceless gift, regardless of how we chose to spend it. I know this issue of life balance is not new information to any of us. And it looks different for everyone. But there is one thing we all have in common: sometimes we all need a little day of us. To catch a breath. To read a book. To live. Because there’s always a reason not to take time for yourself. But in the end you deserve to be on your to-do list as much as anything else.

 

Let’s Start With Forever June 29, 2013

It has been suggested that a canine’s greatest fault is our short lifespans. At an alarming rate that runs roughly seven times faster than people time, I can’t say I entirely disagree. Man’s best friend shouldn’t get taken away from man any sooner than both parties are ready. But would we really ever be ready?

I wondered this today as I caught my mom indulging in what she admits is guilty pleasure entertainment. From witches and warlocks to dragons and vampires, all things supernatural have become very popular lately in literature, television, and movies. And while my mom tends to side with vampires (more often than not) on their seemingly endless mythical feud with werewolves, I can’t say I agree. This may not come as a surprise as I am obviously a (very distant) canine relative of sorts, but that is not my only rationale. Sure, vampires have immortality on their side, but from what I can tell living forever has its fair share of cons. I Choose Life

Artistic interpretations of vampire life continue to evolve over time, but the basics remain. And while it’s not always the case, many interpretations paint vivid portrayals of vampires who long for a chance to be human and live a normal human life. This leads me to believe immortality might not be all its cracked up to be. In contrast, werewolf life somehow strikes the perfect balance between natural and supernatural, allowing for a normal human life and (along with that) a susceptibility to death.

To me, death is just as important as life because it is our constant reminder to cherish what we have. I believe in the gift of each morning, living each day like it could be my last, and dancing like no one is watching. I believe in James Dean’s suggestion to “dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” None of that would remain a priority if I were miraculously granted immortality. And if it did, I can honestly say it would never be the same.

While I don’t necessarily disagree that a canine’s greatest fault is our short lifespan, I also can’t say I would change that if I was ever afforded the option. The truth is I don’t think anyone is ever really ready to lose a loved one. It doesn’t matter whether someone dies unexpectedly or inevitably loses a hard-fought battle with terminal illness. You’re never really ready. And neither way is easier on those left behind. But just as it is for people loved ones, the relationship between a person and his or her dog is priceless even after the dog moves on to doggie heaven. Just ask someone who has lost their best canine friend – those paw prints remain embedded on their heart forever. I’ll take that over immortality any day. That is my kind of forever.

 

 

All the Small Things April 28, 2013

I figured it out! I know what we have to do. World peace is at our fingertips people! All we have to do is hug one another. All right, all right, I know I’m likely not the first one to throw this theory on the table, but please hear me out. The power is in the numbers.

Today I enjoyed 76 different petting sessions, made close to 20 people smile at least once, and spent more time being hugged and played with than by myself. That, my friends, is a good day. I’m certain I didn’t make anyone’s problems disappear, but peace was in the air in my favorite kind of way today.Small Smiles Make A Big Difference

All kidding aside, my experience today led me to wonder what the world would be like if we all committed to the theory to kill our enemies with kindness rather than violence. Perhaps one of the reasons the world is in the state it’s in is that people have stopped caring for each other. Something as small as a smile can make the day of the stranger on the street or a hug to somehow that just lived through an embarrassing moment. But not everyone chooses to engage in such the small things that make the world go round. It makes me squirm sometimes when people miss opportunities to bring light to the lives of others.

Again, I turn my simple mind to the simplicity of the minds of the little people in my life, who never cease to educate me. The best kinds of children’s entertainment are put together by people as wise as the little people they inspire. American writer Shel Silverstein is no exception to this rule, with his powerful poetry that speaks to the heart as well as the mind.

“I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war,” Silverstein wrote. “Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.”

In retrospect, I won some pretty easy battles today. I was surrounded by family who have a culture drenched in love for each other. The same isn’t always true in an average day, and those are the days to make it count. Hugs and smiles probably won’t solve the problems of the world, but all the small things aren’t so small to me. So today I share my 76 petting sessions, more than 20 smiles and all of my hugs with the world in hopes that my small contribution makes a difference.

“Be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies,” Mother Theresa once said. It’s our world…why not make it shine?

 

You’ve Got a Friend In Me March 29, 2013

Guy friends are underestimated if you ask me. I mean, everyone always talks about the sisterhood of the traveling collars, but I’m not so sure. Guys are simple. We see things for what they are and usually say so.

I’ve recently been spending a little extra time with my guy pal Diesel. Six months ago, I was bigger than him and now he’s bigger than me. I suppose size doesn’t matter in friendships though, so I digress.

From what I’ve seen and heard about gals, that’s not always the case. I don’t mean to generalize as I’m certain not all gal pals are the same. But I do think there is a certain encouragement of judgmental thinking and unreasonably high standards for things I just don’t understand.

Diesel and Me

I’ve struggled with this lately on my journey with Simple Abundance. I “cheated” recently and looked ahead a few days and it’s more of the same commentary on low self-esteem and finding your inner fashion sense. I may not identify with the message, but I certainly agree.

I’m all for outfitting our authentic selves in a way that empowers us to conquer daily life, but I don’t appreciate the pressure generally put on women in our society to present better than they might actually feel. I mean, some days you just want to laze around and be comfortable. Those days shouldn’t have to come with pressure to look or act a certain way.

Diesel and I have this thing we agree on that I think makes us the friends we are. Our moms are pretty great, even if they occasionally don’t think they are. I know the pressures of the world are tough on women, and as a result challenge their relationships with each other.

That’s what I like about being a guy. We can be lazy. It’s almost expected some of the time. I might be simple, but in my opinion simplicity opens a door to emotional openness that provides purpose to what some may see as laziness. We have all kinds of extra emotional energy to spend on making sure the womenfolk in our lives feel special.