Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

I Can See The Birds March 4, 2015

They’re back. The winged beauties that fill the branches of trees throughout my backyard paradise during the spring, summer and fall months have arrived. I heard their chirps echo through the air this morning as I basked in a balmy 23-degree sunlight for a few minutes while I was outside. Pausing to smell the snowflakes

Perspective is a funny thing when it comes to weather around here. Though most people would consider 23-degrees far from balmy (and even Wisconsinites have been known to reach for the winter coats, hats and mittens when it first happens in October or November), it feels warm after another frigid winter like the one we’ve had. (Forget the winter coats, because it feels like spring!)

So my first thought when I heard the familiar banter between the sparrows and and finches was that it seems too early for them to be back. It may have been 23 degrees today, but it’s supposed to be mighty chilly again tomorrow. Not to mention the lingering inches of snow that still cover the ground.

But the second the those thoughts crossed my mind, I pushed them aside. Because in spite of my concern for their safety and well being, they are a sight for sore eyes. They are one of the first signs that spring is coming. Relief and renewal and rejuvenation are on their way. Soon the air will be warmer again, and dear baby Carter and I will resume our playtime silliness in the green grass of the backyard.

Only I know this year will be different. This year, spring means we are getting even closer to the arrival of little person no. 2, who is set to arrive in early June.

I’m not sure how that will change things for my outdoor plans, but I’m hopeful the bit of extra time mom will have at home with the new baby will mean a bit of extra time for all of us to enjoy the sunshine together.

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush,” suggested Wisconsin columnist Doug Larson. I don’t know much about wearing shoes. And I can’t whistle.

But I can see the birds. And I think that’s a pretty good sign of things to come.

 

A Heart Full February 27, 2015

There are now two cribs in my forever home. Two closets filled with tiny clothes. Two car seats. Two changing tables. And if I’m being honest, it’s all a bit overwhelming. But if there is something I would prefer not to hear again any time soon, it’s a set of words I find condescending and unnecessary.

“You’re definitely going to have your hands full,” people have been saying to my forever parents. It’s been uttered by friends and family. It’s been referenced by doctors and nurses. It’s even been joked about by complete strangers at the grocery store. And while 18 months (to the day) is not a big gap between little people by any means, it is certainly not one to be condescending about either. Thinking in the Nursery

Because while this may not have been in my parent’s play book for the ideal sibling spacing situation, it wasn’t up to them. From my perspective, it may not have been their plan, but it was certainly God’s plan. And that’s what matters.

Now that I’ve experienced infancy through early toddlerhood, I feel like I can say with some sense of (albeit doggie) authority that I think any sort of spacing would come with its fair share of pros and cons. In our case, I’m happy my people won’t be pushing the reset button after Carter is grown enough that they have forgotten how to survive through sleepless nights. Diapers and bottles and all things baby are all still fresh on their minds.

I know it won’t be easy. I’m just mentally prepared for a couple of pretty challenging years.

But beyond any of that, I heard mom say something today that put things in perspective for me. She was on the phone for work and I’m not sure who she was talking to. I cringed when I heard whoever it was say “you’re going to have your hands full.” Mom didn’t bat an eyelash.

“That’s probably true, but at least I’ll have a heart full too.”

It’s true there are now some doubles of baby things in the house. Soon it will probably look even more like a day care than the organized oasis of peace I once knew. But I’m okay with that. Because I know what mom said is true. These things are signs of what is to come. Right along with the extra crib and diapers and sleepless nights will be more love than any of us knew we even had in our hearts. And that right there is more than worth the extra trouble.

 

I Will Have Lived February 26, 2015

It’s something I’ve honestly never done. I guess I could blame any number of things for why it isn’t a priority in my life. Regardless, I can’t say its something I’d ever like to do.

Planning ahead. From the ground up, it never has been and never will be something I particularly care to do.

I’ve found through my life experience that if something is meant to be it will be. I believe that everything that happened to me as a puppy – from that moment I lost my birth mom and brothers to my time on the streets to my time with that first foster family who returned me to the humane  society – led me to where I am today. I wouldn’t redo any of it and I have no regrets. Thinking big thoughts

And if I look back in time, I know for certain no amount of strategic planning on my part would have gotten me to this point. I’m at the mercy of my people for most things, and I wouldn’t change that for love or money.

So when I heard the words of one of America’s beloved founding founders, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I’ve had it wrong all this time.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” suggested Ben Franklin. As one who has never really made (or executed) a plan in my entire doggie life, I found this concept somewhat troubling. It made me wonder what my life would have looked like if I had somehow made a plan. Or what it would look like if I made one now.

I thought maybe five years would be a good place to start. Especially since that’s the equivalent to 35 in dog years. In five years (God willing) I will be twelve. Or 84 in dog years.

What’s interesting is that based on where I’m at in life, five years seems like a blink of an eye. Five years ago, I was a few short months away from finding my forever home. Or my forever people were a few months away from finding me. That feels like yesterday. And it feels like years and years ago. At the same time.

I think that’s why I’ve never tried planning ahead. Not only because I believe in making the best of any situation (and therefore don’t think I need a plan), but because I’ve never had a reason to question the natural way of things. It might not be a popular perspective, but it’s one I’ve decided to stick to. Does that make me a failure? I don’t think so. Instead I chose to live the life I’ve been blessed with, embracing the twists and turns that make it interesting.

Because when those five years are up I might not have done anything according to the plan. But I will have lived. And to me that means more than any strategic plan ever could.

 

The Christmas Coal December 26, 2014

To say my dear forever dad was upset was an understatement. I don’t particularly care for when my people are unhappy, so this is something I’ve come to dislike almost as much (if not more) as my dad. It’s nothing he won’t get over, but it’s something that I can’t stop thinking about.

There’s this news story flying around the Internet right now about the “Christmas Coal,” otherwise known as a complete shutdown of video game systems due to hacking issues. It started Christmas Eve and three days later the issue still has not been fixed. In the Deep End

The group of hackers responsible for the problem is claiming a big reason they did this was to raise awareness about the lack of proper security procedures and methods within the networks that support the systems. That this was something in the best interest of gamers everywhere who they are ultimately trying to protect.

I think that’s a bunch of rubbish. Even if its true, there is something awfully sad about everything involved with that idea. It diminishes an underlying tone of hope and trust and understanding of common decency in society. It’s rude. And it’s sad.

Dad will get over it. Surely those like him will also get over it. As will the families who saved up all year to buy their children a system for Christmas I suppose. I guess I too will even get over the disappointment dad had (and still has, since the network remains compromised three days later). I also recognize the silver lining in all the extra time anyone who has been affected by this will have with their friends and family as a result.

But I won’t get over the lesson I’ve learned from all of this. I can’t get over that. It’s a simple lesson that is apparently lost on some people. It’s something you may even debate in Ethics 101. Doing a bad thing for the right reasons doesn’t make it the right thing to do. It’s as simple as that.

 

Mr. Fancypants December 9, 2014

Some things in life really are unnecessary. Like pants (at least in my case). Yet I hear this phrase Mr. Fancypants thrown around and it gets me to thinking.

It happened again tonight when mom and dad had the television on as dear baby Carter ran around (you read that right, a few weeks into walking and he’s already starting to gallop). There was some show on about Hollywood people that was featuring their extravagant mansions. It  was barely a whisper, but I heard dad mutter under his breath something or another about hating those people for having what they have. Standing Strong

Mom must have heard it to, because she stopped what she was doing in the kitchen and asked him why. It’s a question he couldn’t really answer other than to admit there is a great deal of farce behind the jealousy that’s all to easy to fall into.

He talks frequently about winning the lottery, too. Like that will solve all of life’s problems. I know he means well, and I also know this is coming from me, one who does less than nothing to contribute to the bottom line around here, but I think it’s all a little ridiculous. And those mansions? Who needs 56,000 square feet on a 30-acre lot anyway? That’s just silliness.

I also know money doesn’t grow on trees. I know it’s hard-earned. But I realized something today as I thought about all of the unnecessary things in life. Even if I were to come into a fortune of some kind, what on Earth would I do with it? I don’t think I could ever pass as a Mr. Fancypants (or pull off pants in the first place). And I don’t know that I would want to. Instead, I feel like I would find ways to help show my gratitude to my forever family for giving me the best life a dog could ask for.

Beyond that, I think it’s important that no matter where a person falls on the fancypants ladder, there will always be someone with more and someone with less than you. Perspective. From the ground up, it’s a pretty powerful thing. Especially when it comes to this scary thing called greed.

“Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction,” suggested German social psychologist Erich Fromm. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather feel satisfied. I’d rather avoid being in a bottomless pit. I’d rather feel alive.

 

A Change of Scenery October 30, 2014

I shouldn’t complain. It has been weeks, months maybe, since we last had something like this happen around here. But that doesn’t make it any less real when you’re living it. It certainly didn’t change anything about mine and mom’s reaction to it. You’d think we would be used to it by now. Trained for action, so to speak. Truth be told, I don’t think a person is ever really prepared to deal with what happened today.

The WatchdogThe funny thing is it only lasted an hour and a half. Relatively speaking, that’s not that long. In spite of relativity, I will tell you it felt like an eternity. Carter was unhappy. He was crying, real baby tears, and screaming at the top of his tiny baby lungs. I know this comes from a fairly compact dog that has a surprisingly intimidating bark, but I can’t believe how loud a sound such a small little person can make. And for how long.

Mom tried everything. He wasn’t hungry. He had a clean diaper. He seemed tired, so she put him down for a nap, which only made him scream louder. She let him cry a bit in his crib, thinking he’d fall asleep. No such luck. She rocked and swayed and cuddled him, but he wanted nothing to do with any of that. She put him on the floor to explore and he sat there like a very loud and angry stone, tears continuing to fly all over the place.

There were brief moments of peace intermixed, mostly when he was up to no good. He threw his nuk in the toilet. He opened the door to the fridge. He pulled a few things out of the lazy Susan. And my goodness, few things in life make him as happy as the television remote. I don’t think he was doing any of this to be particularly sassy, because he is generally an incredibly well behaved little man.

Whatever the reason, mom wasn’t having it. She lost her cool and scolded him a bit louder than necessary a couple times more than necessary. The crying didn’t stop until dad got home and I am not exaggerating when I say it stopped like a light switch. Like a dark knight, dad walked in the door and Carter’s epic emotional roller coaster drew to an abrupt stop.

I thought mom would be upset, given that she just literally did everything in her power to bring that train to a halt for the last hour and a half. Instead she marveled at the quiet in the house. It’s a simple thing to be sure, but truly and honestly I could almost see the relief wash over her to see Carter smiling in dad’s arms.

I know I shouldn’t complain, so I won’t. Instead I will comment as the observer of life that I am. I’m no expert in baby behavior, but I think I learned something about human behavior today. Sometimes it can seem like the world is ending, but really you just need a change of scenery to put things in perspective. When the world is spinning, control over your perspective can be the thing that gives you sound footing. From the ground up, that’s what I’ve found at least.

 

Falling From The Sky July 29, 2014

It’s normally not one of my favorite things when the sky cries. It happens a lot around here in the springtime, and (at least this year) pretty frequently in the summertime. The summertime storms are not my favorite, with their loud crashing sounds but I deal all right compared to a lot of the stories I’ve heard about fellow four-leggers. To be honest, it is definitely one of few things I am in denial about there being a silver lining. All right, I suppose there are some benefits (like the plants flourishing, for example). But in general, rain does not bring good things in my opinion.Heavenly Reflections

At least that’s what I thought until tonight. I went outside to keep mom company as she refilled the bird feeders that now scatter through my backyard paradise when it happened. The smell. If you’ve ever stood outside a few moments before a spring or summer rain, you know what I’m talking about. It is a distinct and indescribable scent that somehow uplifts and restores the soul. I can’t explain it.

Mom smelled it too, because she seemed somehow to be floating through the yard as she busied herself with the feeders. Meanwhile, I sat back watching as fireflies danced and a cool wind blew through my fur. It was a pretty perfect moment.

I find these happening from time to time. Moments with raindrops and fireflies that somehow bring joy to everyone there to witness them. In this (albeit rare) case, I was happy to welcome in the rain that continues to pitter patter on the windowsills as I write. In this case I find it soothing, comforting and refreshing. Like most things, I know it’s all a matter of perspective. Maybe God knew I needed a reminder of that tonight so he brought to life a thought by English writer and philosopher Gilbert Chesterson.

“When it rains on your parade, look up rather than down,” Chesterson suggested. “Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.”

 

 

Maybe You Can May 4, 2014

It happened almost four month ago. It was terrible. It was one of those things I couldn’t even talk about because it was so emotional. For everyone involved, it was one of those days of which we do not speak. You know the kind. The day you hate. Or regret. Or wish you could completely erase from the memory of anyone and everyone involved. For me, that day was January 9, 2014.What's that you say?

That was one of the only days in my life I honestly wish I could take back. The day I wish would have gone differently. The day I met Charlie.

It was innocent enough on the part of my dear aunt Morgan, who brought her new addition into my forever home. To be fair to her, she had absolutely no idea how I was doing or adjusting to the concept of having my new little person around 24/7. She had been an absolute God-send for my people those first few days, but as it pertains to the presence of another dog in our home…well, that was something completely it’s own.

Enter Charlie. A dachshund with something to prove. He loved my dear aunt so very much, but he did not love me. Or Carter for that matter. He came into our house with something to prove and I didn’t like it one bit. I don’t often feel myself overcome with any sort of overly protective nature, but it happened that day. Charlie and I, well, we did not get along. And, as a result, dear Charlie went back to the humane society from whence he came that day. And to this day I feel awful about it, while at the same time I know it was right how I reacted to him that day of days.

Proof came today when I heard some heart-stoppingly amazing good news. My dear Morgan finally found her forever doggie friend today. His name is Joey and he is a Pomeranian and I cannot wait to meet him. It is different than it was with Charlie in every possible way. Carter is older now. He can handle meeting a new four-legged friend. He basically told me so when I stared into my eyes yesterday.

Because one thing is for sure: Carter will be a forever dog person. This is something I hold dear to my heart, forever and always, even though it (probably) has more to do with how my people feel about animals. Rather than question any of it, I can’t wait to meet dear Joey because I know he will erase the memories of four months ago. Tomorrow I will meet dear Joey, and somehow I know life will never be the same. Because that dreadful day in February was one of those things you can’t take back. Unless, under the right circumstances, maybe you can.

 

Raindrops Keep Falling May 2, 2014

Rain drops keep falling on my head. Literally. It’s been pretty rainy and dreary around here lately. Enough that it’s getting to my head a little. I don’t know why I let it happen, but suddenly and seemingly randomly I’m overcome with a feeling I prefer to avoid. I feel sad. Blue like the sky isn’t. Downright bummed out.

And it hurts. I am the dog who finds joy in people places and things. I can’t be letting a few dreary days get to me. That’s when I remembered this trick I’ve heard mom talk about a few times. It’s a game she plays with her mind and wins with her heart. Perspective. From the ground up, it’s  a pretty powerful thing. Love in Truth, Truth in Love

When you are encountered with a sticky situation (be it emotional or otherwise) think about the worst possible thing that could happen, she says. Nine times out of ten that worst case scenario will be so far out of the realm of possibility it is destined to bring relief to your soul.

It’s a good idea to be sure. So many terrible things could have happened today. Someone could have knocked down one of those candles mom lights all over the house and the house could have burned down. Carter could have gotten hurt, or sick, or worse. I could have gotten into an altercation with the neighbor dog on my walk.

I think it’s great that mom loves her new job in the news business, but I personally am in the business of ignoring news. Today I caught some news by accident and got my answer to the question of what the worst possible thing would be to happen today. Stories of tornados wiping out whole cities and local moms dying after bouts of cancer and a teenager who was arrested after police got word of his detailed plot to kill his parents and school mates. These are real things that happened in the world today.

Meanwhile, I’m cozy and comfortable in the comfort of my forever home. I had food in my dish and water in my bowl. I have my toys and my health and my people. And, as usual, I had more love thrown my way than I could possibly catch. Rain drops keep falling on my head. Which, I’m not going to lie, is getting a little annoying. But there is a silver lining in even the worst case scenario. Perspective. From the ground up, it’s a pretty powerful thing.

 

Dessert First April 6, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 6:43 pm
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For me, it’s usually a dental bone. Or a rawhide. Or may, if I’m really lucky, a fragment of bacon or steak table scraps. Dessert is probably pretty different for me than it is for most people.

For my people, it’s either homemade chocolate cream pie or a slice of tiramisu or carrot cake or cheesecake or Butterfinger torte. And it’s all pretty yummy from what I can tell by smelling it. I never get samples, but it’s okay. I can see the joy that comes from dessert. It’s honest and true and real.

So is life, I realized today. When you’ve been through something, big or small, it changes you. It changes your outlook on life. It’s no secret I eat the same thing every day. And, for me, dessert is usually a dental bone or rawhide or maybe (if I’m lucky) a table scrap of some kind. But in a way it is the same for a lot of people.Legacy Looks Like This

Sometimes life gets kind of repetitive from day to day. It can seem like we’re eating the same thing over and over. But ultimately that’s not such a bad thing. And it’s the dessert that changes things up. It doesn’t have to be a pie or cake of some kind. It can be any particular enjoyment of life.

Life. From the ground up, it can be dessert if we let it be. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Baby Carter had a fever today. It’s not a surprise because my people have been sick with a cold for a few days. I would have thought it somewhat of a miracle had he not come down with something. But as his fever went down I found myself feeling relieved. Who needs dessert when something as simple as life itself has been restored to normality?