Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Giggles All The Way December 12, 2014

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this news update. That’s kind of how I felt tonight when it happened. All the usual suspects were together in the basement engaging in our usual nighttime shenanigans.

There was laughter and happiness and joy. And love. From the ground up, it’s come to be a pretty happy time of day in the Schmidt home. We were a couple minutes into the usual game of pickle in the middle – the one where I chase a toy as mom and dad throw it back and forth between themselves and dear baby Carter giggles the night away – when routine took a turn for novelty.Happy!!!!

Carter made himself the pickle. In the best and most adorable kind of way I could have imagined. My role turned from active to passive, as I stood by and watched it all unfold. Sure, he had the toy we had been playing with a few minutes earlier. But the game was not about that anymore.

He walked from mom to dad. And from dad to mom. And from mom to dad. Over and over. I would say he did that about a dozen times before he moved on to the next game as it is my understanding 11-month-olds do. In itself, I suppose it probably doesn’t sound like anything special.

But there was laughter and happiness and joy and love involved. A whole lot of love. Because it wasn’t jut about walking back and forth between our beloved forever parents. As he walked toward dad, he giggled and smiled his biggest kind of smile as dad opened his arms and did the same. When he turned around and mom giggled and smiled and opened her arms, he smiled and giggled as he made his return journey. And every time he made it to his destination, there was hugging involved.

It was quite the sight to see, even if it did interrupt my regularly scheduled programming for the evening. I might have missed out on the remainder of my game of pickle in the middle, but this was so much better. This was joy, from the ground up.

 

The Whole Way Home November 27, 2014

It’s one of my most absolute favorite days of the year. Not just because I get to see the extended members of my forever family. Or because of the delicious variety of table scraps I inevitably score throughout the day. It’s not even because I know I have a game or two of pickle in the middle to look forward to with some of my favorite (not-so) little people.

It’s because of how these things make me feel. Gratitude. From the ground up, it oozes out of my soul today, as our nation celebrates a day designated to pause and reflect on one’s blessings in life. Though this is something I try to do on a daily basis, there’s something special about today. Maybe it’s the time with family and those table scraps and after-dinner games. Or maybe it’s what happens when all that is over. Joy

That was the case for me today, as my most recognizable moment of blissful gratitude took me by surprise. It happened on the car ride back to my forever home. It was dark outside so no one could see it happening. Somehow that made it even more memorable for me. As has become the norm of late, mom was in the back seat with dear baby Carter, leaving me to her former spot in the passenger seat. This is an honor in itself, but that’s not all.

Soft music echoed through the car as dad drove, Carter napped, and mom sat in reflective silence in the back seat. In itself it was a perfect moment for our little family. But what completed it for me was dad’s hand. He pet me with his free hand the whole way home. Mom tells me all the time what I already know. She loves me bigger than the sky. Dad doesn’t have to say so. And no words were needed in that 40-minute car ride for me to know true gratitude.

Because today is one of my absolute favorite days of the year. I’ve never been at a shortage of reasons why I love it so much, but this year will always stand out from the crowd for its simplicity in silence. No one has to say a word for me to know real love.

That is what I am most grateful for today. The true and unconditional love I feel in my heart for my people. And even more so for the moments when no words are necessary for me to know for certain they feel it too.

 

Little Star November 19, 2014

Winter is here. Remember those posts about it knocking at the door? It has arrived in all of its snowy, frigid goodness. With it I’ve already gotten more snuggles than I knew in the summer months, which I think is one of my favorite things about winter in Wisconsin.

Tonight I discovered another silver lining to being cooped up inside for the better part of the next several months. It’s a new one this winter, and while I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it in some ways, it still took me by surprise.Ground Up Thinking

An old favorite of mine has resumed on an almost daily basis as we play together as a family for a bit before Carter’s bedtime. Your resident pickle in the middle is back. Mom and dad throw a toy of mine back and forth while I chase around trying to intercept it. Meanwhile, Carter sits by giggling at the action. And when he gets the toy for some reason, he gives it to me like he knows he is a co-conspirator.

Tonight’s game really wore me out, and when it was over I snuggled myself into mom’s legs on the floor as she and dad took to playing some sort of silliness with Carter. That’s when something new happened. Dad turned off all the lights in the basement except for this little nightlight that is shaped like a doggie (of course) that projects an image of stars onto the ceiling.

I couldn’t help it. The scene as my three favorite people in the world laid on the floor together looking up at the fake stars warmed my heart. ‘Twinkle twinkle, little star,’ mom sang softly. “How I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky. Twinkle twinkle, little start, how I wonder what you are.”

I made a wish as mom sang her song and dad and Carter and I listened. I wished with all my might for something I can’t share. (I can’t say or it won’t come true).

As the moment ended and the bedtime routine ensued, I found myself again thanking my lucky stars that winter is here. With all its snuggly, snowy, frigid goodness. And that’s okay by me.

 

On Being Joy October 14, 2014

It was just like old times. And I honestly can say I can’t recall the last time it happened. Pickle in the middle. From the ground up, this familiar favorite activity of mine stirred up a whole new sense of glee tonight. It was one of those fractions of time that simultaneously lasts forever and not long enough.

Other than the time that has passed since it has last been played, nothing in particular was different about the game itself. It still involved my forever mom and dad throwing a toy of mine back and forth between them while I pretend not to know what’s going on. I chase after it, back and forth, until I run out of steam.

Tonight was no exception. I chased and jumped and heaved and jumped and chased some more. Except this time, we had an audience. Dear baby Carter sat by, occasionally attempting an interception. And laughing. I know this is a joyful game, but I had no idea how joyful it could be until the giggling started and did not stop. It should be noted that while Carter is a happy baby, giggling is not something he takes lightly. His curious mind is continuously calculating and seeking to understand his surroundings. So this giggling sound is something of an emotional golden gem around here. For mom and dad, and (to my surprise) for me.

That thing I said about running out of steam? It was like the giggles fueled me somehow, and I kept running and jumping and heaving and running and jumping some more as a result. Carter was the one giggling, but mom and dad were so happy in these moments. Joy. From the ground up, it literally fueled my spirit today.

“There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward,” suggested Lebanese poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran.

It was easy for me to identify the fusion of the gift and reward of joy today. Because it was just like old times. Except it might have been a tiny bit better. My beloved little person has found a way to do it again. He has found a way to be joy, from the ground up.

Wiley and Carter Costumes

 

The Secret Ingredient February 9, 2014

For some people, it’s a choice. For others, it’s as simple as a bloodline. And for me, it happened the day my forever mom and dad brought me into their home. Because they did more than that. They brought me into a family.

I was reminded of this over the weekend as both sides of my forever family joined together to celebrate my dad’s birthday. It was the first time the families have been all together since baby Carter was born and I was prepared for anything. Well, to be honest, I was prepared to step aside and let Carter steal the show. And he did.FamilyNo Secrets

But (to my surprise) I also earned my fair share of attention. I got pets and hugs and play time and treats and amidst it all I got the best thing of all. Love. From the ground up, I am blessed to be loved by such wonderful family members. It happened when I was playing what likely is my hundredth game of pickle in the middle with some of my favorite little people this afternoon.

I realized in those moments the answer to one of life’s most challenging questions. What is the secret ingredient in my recipe for joy? My family. It takes a village, as the proverb says, and I quite like mine. I had no idea that day I came home from the humane society just how blessed I would become.

Because that proverb is right – it does indeed take a village. We all need a good support system in place for those days when the ground shakes around us. For the times when we feel like its us against the world. And for the times we are overcome with joy and need to share it with someone special.

And that someone special may not always be a relative or family member. Sometimes the friends we make along the way become their own kind of family. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few of those in my life as well.

So to those who say you can’t choose your family, I disagree. Because in my case, they chose me.

 

So Happy Together July 28, 2013

I don’t understand why people call cell phones smart. The way I see it, they distract more than they connect. They take people away from the company they’re with to a cyber place with people somewhere else. And (perhaps most importantly) they detract from my favorite time of day: family time.Family Time Please

It doesn’t happen often, but it did tonight. There we were in the living room. Together. But separate. Mom and dad both were playing around with these so-called Smartphones. I don’t know what they were doing that was so important, but it doesn’t matter to me. Sunday nights are not for cell phones. They are for family time. So I did what any dog would do: I shut that technology party down.

And it was far from easy. In addition to every single one of my toys (which I still don’t understand why dad insists on putting into a basket), I brought out some of my best tricks. I sat and stared at dad. I jumped at him. I pawed at his foot. Nothing. I stared at mom. I jumped at her. I pawed at her foot. Nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing – my mom confused all of my purposeful shenanigans as a desire to be let outside. I dutifully went outside, did my business and then scratched at the door to be let back inside so I could resume my mission. I would not be ignored. Persistence and patience paid off about fifteen minutes later when I finally succeeded in luring them both into a game of pickle in the middle.

This is a favorite game of theirs and (in spite of how frustrating it can be to always play the role of pickle) it is a favorite of mine. They always smile and giggle and I can feel it in the air. There we were in the living room. Together. Joy. In a moment, there it is.

These games never last very long, but as I am an expert in the area of people watching I know what always comes next. Family time. It never stops with the game. It starts with the game. The cell phones get put away (who are you calling smart now?), and we cuddle together as a family. We are so happy together in these moments. Now if only I could figure out a trick to get them to turn off that television.