Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

All Over Again December 29, 2014

Everything about it felt a bit like deja vu to me. There was cooking and dancing and silliness and it all reminded me of something I’ve seen dozens of times before. It’s just been a while.

For some time now mom does the cooking. Or dad. But it rarely happens that they cook together like they did tonight. It was nothing fancy either. Just a pretty standard sampling of spaghetti with semi-homemade meat sauce, peas and garlic bread. The music in the background was a throwback to a few years ago too, including some old favorites by “Coldplay.” As they cooked, dear baby Carter happily feasted on a pear. And I watched, as I do, as joy from the ground up came to life in my kitchen.Good Life

This is not to say there is anything wrong with the present. There is a lot to celebrate about even the relatively mundane things about daily life in my forever home. But sometimes there’s nothing like a glimpse of the past to bring the present into focus.

Paying homage to where we came from can have that effect, I’ve found. Though anyone’s past might be marred with negatives, finding the positives to embrace can make all the difference in living joy in your daily life. There’s plenty about my past I could let haunt me, but I choose to celebrate the happy things instead. Family Time Please

Like the feeling of deja vu I had today. It was in moment when mom and dad danced around the kitchen without even meaning to as they teamed up to make the perfectly seasoned pasta sauce. It was in the moment when One Republic’s “Good Life” came on the music player and they reminisced about the time mom caught dad swinging Carter around the living room to the lyrics a few months ago. It was in the kiss they thought no one saw.

“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The past is not a place I’d like to live, but it certainly serves a purpose as far as I’m concerned. Because really it’s what we do with it that matters.

 

Close Your Eyes December 21, 2014

It wasn’t the first time he said it and it won’t be the last. My dear forever dad made the comment today when he thought I wasn’t listening. It was one I’ve become all too familiar with hearing, especially around him. The Green Bay Packers were on television and I had assumed an incredibly comfortable position in one of my most favorite places in my forever home. To the average observer (and my dad, I guess), I was asleep on that cozy chair cushion.

“You sleep all the time, Wiles,” dad said, more for those in the room than for me. Or so he thought. Not only did I hear him loud and clear (as I always do), but it got me to thinking about the s0-called sleeping that I do. While I will admit there is the occasional bout of pure unadulterated snoozing, a lot of the time my mind is racing. Sleeeeeeep

I close my eyes and I see so much. I dream. I think about the future. I cherish the present. It seems like so long ago that I closed my eyes and saw my replacement doggie playing with mom and dad and little boy and girl there. Though it was jarring at first, I found peace with the concept of passing my legacy as the dog of the house to my successor. It’s a big job and I want to know that someday when the torch is handed off, it’s to someone I trust.

That image came to mind today as mom and dad shared what they thought was a private conversation. (See, I hear way more than they think I do). Mom was thinking out loud (as she does a lot) about when her and dad have another little person someday. She was saying it’s something she’s looking forward to, but finds herself stressing about more than she would have thought. “What if he or she is nothing like Carter?” she questioned. “What if we only had good luck with one, and the second one is all kinds of trouble?”

My ears perked up in anticipation of dad’s response. It’s a big question, to which he had the perfect answer.

“It’s not luck,” he said. “It’s how you’re raising him, Ty.” Wow. I don’t think he could have paid mom a higher compliment than he did with a mere handful of words. Here she was, babbling on and on about it and he says a grand total of eight words and brings the babbling brook to a happy and peaceful standstill. I honestly don’t think he could have said anything more perfect in that moment.

I would know, because it happens all the time. I hear all kinds of things when my people don’t think I’m listening. A lot of good things happen behind closed eyes. To me, as well as to those around me. I don’t mind if dad teases me about sleeping too much as a result. It’s worth it to witness moments like this.

 

On That Journey October 7, 2014

It’s happened only in recent weeks. And it’s one of those things that doesn’t go unnoticed by your resident four-legged friend. All things animated have taken over the living room of my forever home. From cartoons like Doc McStuffins and her gang of characters and the well-known clan from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to fan favorites like Disney’s Dumbo or Toy Story, they’ve all started to become part of the cast of my day. Simplify

Mom has her favorites, too, I’ve noticed, including Anastasia. One song in particular got me to thinking as I heard it for the millionth time today. “Journey to the Past” highlights the main character’s attempts to piece together her past in attempt to define her identity and move forward with her future. It got me to thinking what it might be like to actually travel to the past, to re-experience or experience historical things for the first (or second) time.

If I had my choice, I’m not sure I would do it. Mostly because while I think the past plays a valuable role in both the present and the future, the future is life’s proverbial question mark. I make it a point in my optimistic way of thinking to never question the present that is presence, the past that leads to it or the future that follows. But in reality the past is past. We’ve lived it. And if we haven’t lived it, there are ways to relive it through the historical documents that highlight all things important.

So no. If I had a choice, I would not travel back in time. I would travel forward. I would seek to see the things I know I will most likely miss in my short doggie lifespan. Like dear baby Carter’s wedding day, or the day he gets his first four-legged friend. Or the 25th wedding anniversary of my dear forever parents. Or my the day(s) my dear aunt Morgan’s children are born. Heck, I’ve even said I will consider myself lucky to get a chance to get to train my doggie replacement someday.

I think what I’ve taken from thinking about all of this is a reminder I too frequently take for granted. The present of presence in each and every moment we live is so important, because we never do know when the future will get taken away from us.

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves,” as the very famous English poet William Shakespeare once said. I don’t need a time machine to transport me anywhere but here for me to agree.

 

Searching for the Light June 12, 2014

It might sound silly. I am obviously happier than I have ever been with my forever family and our new addition otherwise known as dear baby Carter. And it doesn’t happen often. But every now and then from time to time I find myself longing for one special thing from a past life of mine. A lighthouse. Light.

During my time in Port Washington, Wisconsin, I lived with a family who had several other cats and dogs and that just didn’t work for me. I am now (dog) man enough to admit I acted out for attention in a variety of ways, including (but not limited to) running away frequently. It wasn’t unheard of for me to jump the four-foot fence that encompassed the backyard, just to spite my owners at the time for not paying proper attention to me. It would be one thing if I felt loved, however there were days they forgot to fill my food and water bowls. Nonetheless, that past is past now.

But as my friends and family know, it is a personal goal of mine to make my past a vivid part of inspiration for my future. So today I thought about the good things. Today I thought about the memories and experiences I gained while I lived with that family. (That is, before they returned me to the humane society for being a nuisance). Good, bad, and ugly, there was one image that kept repeating in my mind. In Port Washington there is this lighthouse. It’s way out into the lake, but there is a stony path leading to it for people who want to visit. I have never been such a visitor, but I know my people have. And I know many (many) before (and after) them have as well.

It’s one of those landmarks I wish I could have brought with me to my new forever home. Not just because it seems to bring its visitors joy. It’s bigger than that. It brings them light. From the ground up, this is one of the very most important things an object can do for a person if you ask me. Because as one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson but it, “what lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

So it might sound silly. But from now on when I find myself longing for the lighthouse I know what I need to do. I need to dig deep and remember both what is behind and in front of me. Light. From the ground up, I know one thing for sure. This is what is within me.

 

Those Goofy Ramblings May 26, 2014

I make a point not to regret things. I don’t see the point in doing anything other than embracing the past as the incredibly necessary stepping stones to the future. It’s different from the philosophy some people have to “never look back.” Because I think we need to look back in order to learn. We need to look back in order to see how far we’ve come. We need to look back to live forward.Happy Doggie

So today I paused to look back on my post from last night. What silliness was that, I thought to myself upon re-reading it this morning. The truth is my head was heavy and I was falling asleep with my paws on the keyboard. I should never have posted such unfinished nonsense. But the truth of the matter is I did. Those goofy ramblings will be out there in cyberspace to remind me of that time I should have thrown in the towel and given in to the sleep that so desperately was claiming my attention.

At first I felt exposed. Embarrassed. And a little bit ashamed. I brought joy to no one through those words, not even myself. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that’s the thing about nonsense. It’s only nonsense if we let it be. And, since it is out there for all to see, I can’t take it back.

But because it happened, because I made a silly mistake yesterday, I learn a lesson today that will play a role in tomorrow and every day thereafter.

“Never regret yesterday,” suggested American author L. Ron Hubbard. “Life is in you today and you make tomorrow.” Sometimes it’s not only okay to wave that little white towel of surrender – it’s better for everyone involved. So my thoughts on regret haven’t changed. These things happen. We all have “off” days. We all make mistakes. It’s what we do with them that matters.

 

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?

 

Along Memory Lane February 18, 2014

It doesn’t happen often. Usually it’s all blue skies and sunshine. Lately there’s even been a lot of playing with a slightly more grown up version of Carter. But every now and then I get a glimpse of the past in my doggie daydreams.

Today I was back on the streets with Tiger (the inappropriately named lab who I came to think of as family). It’s funny how having a little person of my own changes how I reflect on the time I spent helping him care for his puppies. This occurred to me as my daydream trip down memory lane took me to a fateful day. It was like I was there again. Sweet Dreams

It was Tiger and I against the world. Usually we stayed on our part of town but not that day. That day our search for food brought us into a territory better left alone. We were met there by a brutish pack of dogs just as fierce as rumor had it. Except for one thing. We had a lot at stake. We had three little puppy mouths to feed. And we were not going to negotiate with bullies.

That’s the thing about bullying. They stay in power as long as they are allowed to do so. Stand up to them, put them in their (not so powerful) place, and in a way you stand up for every other victim of their bullying. It’s not always easy, and might not always take on the first try, but persistence will pay off in one way or another.

If not for the bullies, for those who took a stand. It wasn’t easy to cross enemy lines that day, but I’m glad we did it. Sure, we got the food we sought. But we got more than that. We stood up to the bullies and (more importantly) we lived to tell the tale.

The past has a way of making its way into my present in the oddest ways sometimes. And today I’m so glad it did. Because every now and then we need reminders of where we came from to light the path to where we’re going.

 

The Day I Met Myself January 9, 2014

Wiley C. Schmidt. That is the name engraved on the new tag I got from my forever mom and dad recently. It was my Christmas present, mom said, a replacement for the one they got me the day I went home with them from the Oshkosh Humane Society. That one had tarnished over time to the point where a stranger would no longer be able to read mom’s contact information. (Heaven forbid!)

Just call me WileyI was surprised at how bittersweet it was for me to see that old tag go (I think mom put it with a memory box or something with my name on it). It also said Wiley C. Schmidt, and to me it symbolized something. A fresh start. A second chance. A new life. It was all of these things and more. Because that day when I walked into my forever home I felt like I met myself for the first time.

I think this happens to all of us at one point or another in life. We continue along the path, sometimes veering off on our own, other times stopping entirely. Along that path we find out what challenges us, what brings us joy, and what we absolutely cannot handle. And, whether by our choice or the strong encouragement of others, we find out who we are somewhere along the line.

That’s what happened to me that first night in my forever home. I made up my mind this would be my new life, and while there were plenty negatives in my old one, there were lots of positives to incorporate into my new future. Take my name, for example.

That was part of my old life that brought me into my new life. My people opted not to change it when they adopted me, which I appreciate. Because on that day all those days ago I knew it. I was Wiley C. Schmidt. I knew who I was and I was not afraid of it. So while it will always have a very special place in my heart, I know now I don’t need that old tarnished tag to remind me of who I am. Because I have that on lockdown in my heart.

 

Just One Thing November 22, 2013

Two years and three months. That’s how many people years I lived before I met my forever family. I had my time (albeit brief) with my birth mom and brothers. Then there was Tiger – the single doggie dad – and his puppies, who I lived with on the streets for a while. Next came Jo and the man with the leather belt. And finally the first family who adopted me but never loved me as one of their own.

Happiness Is...Looking back on all the homes I’ve had sometimes makes me wonder what life had been like if I had been one of those fancy breeder puppies that cost all kinds of money. Even my forever people first considered purebred West Highland or Norfolk terriers before deciding to adopt a rescue dog. So what would have happened if they had found me in puppyhood? How would life have been different? Would I be different?

I may not be able to travel through time and space to make such a thing a reality, but I can imagine it. And I’m not going to lie – it looks pretty swell. I picture dad picking me out from the litter and tying a big red ribbon around my neck. At eight weeks old, I could have been mom’s birthday present for her 23rd birthday.

I would never have known the pain of losing my birth mom and brothers the way I did. I would never have seen so many things I wish I could un-see while I lived with Jo and the man with the leather belt. I wouldn’t know the rejection that accompanies being returned to the humane society. Sometimes you don’t even know you were lost until you are found.

But that time was not devoid of family. Quite the opposite in fact. I wouldn’t trade the time I had with my birth mom and brothers. She was home to me. I wouldn’t know the sincere compassion I learned from the time I spent helping Tiger support his family. I wouldn’t have the overwhelming desire to protect those I love without time with my beloved Jo.

Three years and two months. That’s how long I’ve lived with my forever family. Though there are a fair share of ups and downs here just as there is anywhere, joy has overwhelmed my time here. But I realized something today. If I could change just one thing I wouldn’t. Each of those pieces comes together into who I am. Past, present and future.

 

The Same In Any Language October 21, 2013

He was patient. He was kind and gentle. And he fooftered. A lot. These are the things people are saying about my dear doggie cousin Scotty tonight. At the age of 12 1/2 he has left us for the Rainbow Bridge, and I can’t help but join the family in mourning his loss.

We All Have A StoryBut there’s this thing I need to share about Scotty and I. We didn’t exactly get along. This is not for lack of trying on either of our parts. We were family. And we liked each other. Scotty the greyhound and Wiley the terrier just didn’t really speak the same language. When we would get together at family functions, he would relax in what I deemed his “spot” somewhere in the middle of the living room floor. I would try with all my might to entice him into a game of chase. I wagged and jumped and pawed. And he laid there, calm as a cucumber, often in a deep and peaceful slumber. I’d never really met a dog like him before.

It all made sense when I learned more about his background. We all have a story and Scotty was no different. He spent the first five years of his life as a working dog at a greyhound race track. I can’t imagine what that must have been like, but I can testify to the quirks that became part of his unique personality as a result.

I adapted pretty easily to my forever home when I was adopted because I was used to the same things many of us rescue dogs are accustomed to. To a greyhound like Scotty on the other hand, a home was a whole new way of life. It was like a new chapter, a fresh start, and (best of all) it incorporated characters into his life like Ken and Sue (his forever people). I can tell from the time we spent together they loved him deeply, which is all any dog really ever strives for. Though I’m not even sure he knew he was a dog. In his mind he was a companion.

Scotty lived a full life as what I would describe as a servant leader. He may not have understood play, but he understood patience (which is not exactly the norm in us canines). It was with this unique sense of patience he taught me you can like each other an awful lot but sometimes you just don’t speak the same language. And that’s okay because the basic lessons of life are the same in any language.

I’ve said before all characters enter our life for a reason. I know Scotty entered mine to teach me some very important life lessons. He was patient. He was kind and gentle. He knew how to make people laugh (because let’s face it – foofters are just a fact of life). Most importantly, he taught us to live in the present. Now is the time. Not yesterday and not tomorrow. Now.

I know if he were here, he would likely agree with the words of Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero who suggested “it is foolish to tear one’s hair in grief, as though sorrow would be made less by baldness.” So while I know he wouldn’t want those of us left behind to be sad (or tear out our fur for that matter), I take this moment (my own personal now) to pause and reflect on all things Scotty.

Rest in peace, dear friend. You will be missed.

Scotty