Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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.

 

On Kindness and Diaper Wipes November 18, 2013

It’s not rocket science. I know it might be a mystery to the two-legged observer, but our canine bathroom routine is far from complicated. It’s all part of my process. I go outside, do my business, enjoy extra-curricular activities (like staring at the birds, attempting to chase off squirrels and occasionally conversing with Demon Dog), and come back inside.

I don’t use a toilet, let alone flush it. I don’t wash my paws when I’m done. And I certainly don’t use toilet paper. My Bathroom

So you can imagine how out of place I felt this weekend as I listened to a long and serious conversation my forever parents had about something called a wipes warmer. This contraption, which apparently warms diaper wipes to what is supposed to be a more comfortable temperature, has joined the ever-growing pile of baby things accumulating in the nursery. And my people are torn about its necessity amongst things like the diapers and wipes themselves.

While I consider it to be completely unnecessary (given my previously aforementioned bathroom behaviors), their conversation got me to thinking about what people refer to as the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done to you. I highly doubt either of my people would like it if they were being woken up to go to the bathroom several times a night. Add to that some freezing cold toilet paper and you’ve got two very upset people. So why would you do essentially the same thing to a little person?

I’ll be honest. I think the wipes warmer is hogwash. But the argument for having one is incredibly solid. “Carry out a random act of kindness,” Princess Diana suggested, “with no expectation of reward, safe in  the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” While the sincerest acts of kindness and compassion require nothing in return, these things have a way of coming back to us in one way or another.

It doesn’t take much. It’s not nearly as complicated as our canine bathroom routine may seem to the two-legged observer. And it certainly doesn’t require anything to warm it to a conceivably agreed upon temperature. Something as seemingly insignificant as a smile (or in my case an enthusiastic tail wag) can contain within it more power than a thousand words. Forget the artificial warmer. Kindness. Compassion. The Golden Rule. These are the words of true warmth.

 

Everybody Poops June 21, 2013

It’s time to talk poop. That’s right, you read correctly. Everybody does it. I hear there is even a book about it for toddlers who are potty training. Taro Gomi’s aptly named “Everybody Poops,” brings to life one of life’s most private and unspeakable things. Well, consider this topic private and unspeakable no more.

If you’re a dog, you already know what I’m about to say. If you’re a human, you’ve undoubtedly witnessed the spectacle firsthand. Either way, the poop circle is a very real thing in the canine world. Most of us labor and pine to find the perfect spot to go number two and just because we find it doesn’t mean the process has ended. Indeed it has only just begun. There is sniffing. There is turning in circles. There is more sniffing. And more turning. Until finally, sometimes a minute or two later, the deed is done.

Embarrassed?

I’m not sure if what happens next is true of all breeds, but (at least in my case) there is usually a (somewhat crazy) celebratory dance that completes the poop circle ritual. It’s nothing I consciously think about and yet it happens every time. The ritual is not complete without my (occasionally downright spastic) little jig afterward.

I got to thinking about this today after I witnessed the unthinkable at the dog park for the millionth time. It doesn’t happen often, but today I watched as a big black lab (whose name I didn’t catch) did his business right out in the open for the world to see. This is not unheard of, I realize, but the owner was amidst the audience (saw it happen) and physically turned away refusing to acknowledge what had transpired.

Shortly thereafter, the man and his dog left the park without doing anything about the stinky pile of poop in the middle of our shiny new exercise area. It only opened a few weeks ago, so everything about it is still so fresh, new and exciting. Then things like that happen. After the man left, one of the nice ladies my mom has befriended went to pick up the aftermath and said “pay it forward” while she tossed it in the nearby garbage can.

Her positive attitude made me reflect on that moment of freedom and celebration after the deed is done. The truth about the poop circle is there is no real mystery behind it. I’m sure there have been some studies that research why dogs do what we do to make the magic happen. But to me there is a lesson to be learned from all this. “You have to motivate yourself with challenges,” American comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld suggests. “That’s how you know you’re still alive.” Poop happens. Everybody does it, but beyond that poop happens in our lives every now and then. Are we going to ignore it like the man at the park did? Or are we going to face it head on and pay it forward like the woman? The choice is ours.